Do you recognize the title as the Campbell Soup campaign slogan? One of the reasons their soup is so good is because it is filled with so many good things.

So, nu? Why am I talking about soup? Allow me to digress for a moment…..last week when my wife, Donna, and I were taking a morning stroll, I was talking about how I love it when something I have read in the bible dozens of times before suddenly has a totally new meaning to me: a new and clearer understanding of what God wants me to know. I know that you have had that same experience, too…haven’t you?

The word of God has different levels, called the Pardes: the P’shat (literal meaning), Remez (symbolic meaning), Drash (spiritual or comparative meaning) and the Sod (deep mystical understanding.)  When we read any passage from the bible, we first understand the P’shat, and after we learn more about God and have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) lead our understanding, we learn the “hidden” messages God has for us.

Yeshua taught the underlying messages, the Remez and the Drash, whereas the Pharisee’s concentrated on the P’shat; they taught the Jews they could be saved by Torah as long as they obeyed the literal meaning of the commandments. We are told that many said Yeshua taught with authority, which (I think) is because He taught the deeper and more spiritual meaning of the Torah that the Pharisees ignored.

OK, now back to the soup…when we look at a bowl of soup, we see mostly just the broth, which covers all the stuff that is underneath. That broth smells good, and tastes great, but when you begin to stir the soup, suddenly all these other wonderful things begin to appear from underneath; the meat, the carrots, the onions, celery and (maybe) even a noodle or two. YUM!!  So even though the broth was satisfying, and could fill your stomach with life-saving nourishment, when you go deeper and begin to stir things up to see what is underneath, you find even more goodness and flavor and usefulness from that soup than just what the broth can supply.

The bible is like a big bowl of soup: it has nourishment on top (P’shat), and better things underneath (Remez and Drash)  you will discover as you get closer and closer to the bottom of the bowl (Sod.)

Maybe that’s why in Psalm 34:9 (JPS Tanakh) King David said:

Taste and see how good the Lord is; happy the man who takes refuge in Him!


Have you had your soup today?

Can I come to God unclean?

Sometimes when I am starting to pray to God I feel so unclean, spiritually and physically, that I feel unworthy to approach the Lord. Maybe sometimes you feel the same way?

I once read a Rabbinic thought for the reason the Messiah hasn’t come to the Jewish people (remember “mainstream” Judaism doesn’t accept that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah God promised) is because we are unworthy, because we are too sinful to receive the Messiah. I tried to find this again, but couldn’t; however, if I am remembering it accurately, then it is such a shame that they just don’t “get it.” Our sinfulness is not what is keeping Messiah away- it is the very reason He has to come!

I mean, think about it- if we have to be sinless to deserve the Messiah, our sinless condition would disqualify His need to come at all.

Truth be told, only when we are unclean can we come to God for cleansing.

We read in Mark 5:25-34 about a woman who had an issuance (some form of bleeding or fluid loss) which made her ceremonially unclean, but was able to come to Yeshua and be healed.

In Matthew 8:3 a man who is unclean comes to Yeshua saying if Yeshua is willing He can cleanse him; Yeshua says He is willing and cleanses the man.

We also read about how Naaman was cleaned of leprosy by bathing in the Jordan because Elijah told him to do so (2 Kings, 5:10) and we read how God cleansed Miriam of leprosy after Moses prayed for Him to heal her (Numbers 12); of course, in this case it was God who caused the leprosy to come upon her as punishment for talking out against Moses, but the fact remains she was unclean and God cleansed her.

The reason Messiah has o come is because we are unclean; and when we are unclean, if we don’t come to God to ask for cleansing, how will we ever be made clean?

Yes, there are ceremonial practices where we wash our body and clothes in water and after sundown we are clean from certain uncleanlinesses (is that a word?), and for other forms of an unclean condition we may need to sacrifice animals, be sprinkled with blood, etc., but still in all, we have to come to the alter to sacrifice to be cleaned; we come to the Cohen (God’s representative) to be inspected and pronounced “clean” before God and the people; there is no other way to come to God for cleansing other than when we are in our state of uncleanliness.

When you see your child all muddy and soiled, you just have to throw that kid in the bath and burn the clothing!  God feels the same way about us when He sees into our hearts and sees the soiled, filthy desires of a sinful nature. He desires to clean us, He wants us to come to Him in any condition we are in. It’s a “Come-as-you-are” salvation that God offers to us, and when we come ready and willing to be cleaned, then God will clean us up. We will still get dirty, and through Messiah we can always be cleaned up again, but because we want to stay clean we will get a lot less dirty than before we did T’shuvah (turning from sin.) Eventually, from a spiritual viewpoint, we won’t look like “Pigpen” from the Charlie Brown comic strip anymore.

Isaiah knew all about our spiritual condition, and said so in no uncertain terms (Isaiah 64:6):

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

King David, when he asked God to forgive him for his sin with Bat-Sheba, knew about God’s willingness and ability to clean us of our sins (Psalm 51:7-12):

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness;  let the bones you have crushed rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David, who the bible calls a man after God’s own heart, knew that there is no state of unclean that God cannot make clean.

So if you feel, as I do sometimes, that you are too dirty to come before God, do as I do when I feel that way: remind yourself that God is always willing to clean you up. He has continually cleaned the uncleanable, saved the unsavable, healed the unhealable, and made the filthiest sinner so clean that they shine like silver and are as white as new fallen snow.

Brothers and Sisters, please- never feel you cannot come before God. There is no condition of spiritual or physical being He will reject if you come to Him humbly and honestly: He is always here, within reach, with His hand held out just waiting for you to grab hold of it.

prayer spam

When the Talmudim (Disciples/students) of Yeshua asked Him how they should pray, well….we all know His answer. But do we think about the line that goes, “Give us this day our daily bread…”? Do we think about what He might have meant by that?

Not the P’shat, which means the written word as it is written, but the Drash– the underlying, spiritual meaning.

I believe what Yeshua was saying was that when we pray, we need to ask only for what we need, then and there. Not for success in life, not for riches or fame, not for next week’s presentation to the Board, but for now. Right now, and only right now, and only what I need right now. I also think that God wants our prayers to go to Him, to the Father, to be delivered in the name of the Son. Not to the Son, not to a “Saint” who is supposed to, what? Intercede with Yeshua (Jesus) to intercede with God? Didn’t Yeshua say the ONLY way to the Father is through the Son (John 14:6)?

What does that mean? It means that our prayers are to be sent to the Father in the name of the Son, and not to the Son for Him to bring to the Father. When we pray to anyone, or anything (even worse!) other than God, Himself- God the Father, God the Creator, God the one and only and God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- then we are committing idolatry.

And when we pray to God, do we pray for what we need now, and only what we need now? I have heard people pray, and I believe their prayers are earnest, but they pray for the same thing over and over, they use “Father God” over, and over, and over- the way a “Valley Girl” uses the work “like”- until I have to think that God is saying to Himself, “All right, already- I know who I am! Just ask for what you want and leave all the ‘Father God this’ and ‘Father God that’ out of it! Oy!”

Don’t pray spam to God. He wants to hear from your heart. I have seen people pause during prayer and I can see them start to sweat trying to think of something else to say. If you have nothing more to say, than what you should say is: nothing more. Just stop. Just end the endless stream of useless words and catch-phrases that are supposed to make you sound like Solomon blessing the Temple. That was a long prayer, and it was a really good one. But long doesn’t mean better. How about Moses’ prayer (Numbers 12:13) when Miriam was struck by God with leprosy? Did he go on and on, or did he just say, “Oh Lord- please heal her!”

Moses found those 5 words to be as effective and meaningful as an entire thesis presented by a graduate student in Theology. God doesn’t just see the heart, He hears the heart.

We see someone who is homeless and downtrodden and (usually) think the worst, yet God sees Job during his trials of faith. We see someone who is mentally or physically challenged and thank God it isn’t us, and God sees a caring, faithful and compassionate person who is thankful that no one else they know has the same problems.

The words we use when we pray are not as important as the condition of our heart. When King David prayed for forgiveness in Psalm 51, he said that God will not despise a broken heart and a contrite spirit. It is the condition of our heart that generates prayer pleasing to the Lord; the fancy King James style words we use, the number of times we say “Oh Lord” or “Father God”, or the length of prayer is all totally meaningless. That is only pleasing to humans who know only what they see and hear. People only see the P’shat of the world, and not the Drash of humanity. I think people just pray “spam” when they use fancy words and long, poetic phrases meant to impress the people around them, and I just have to believe that God is thinking, “Your prayer is to Me, but I know the way you are praying is to impress those around you, so let them answer your prayer.”

Remember: when you pray, God already knows what you need. He knows what you want, He knows is best for you, and He will deliver it when He knows the time is right for you. What you say will not influence His decision but what you feel in your heart will.

When you pray remember the advice Yeshua gave His Talmudim in the Gospels- do not worry about what to say because the Ruach (Spirit) will give you what you need. Trust in the Spirit to guide your prayer and don’t pray from your mouth: pray from your heart.



having control doesn’t mean being in control

Anyone who believes that God is the Supreme Being who created the Universe, and who created life on Earth, and who has done all the things we read about in the Bible doesn’t have any problem also believing that He is in charge of everything. Believers believe that God controls everything.

Or does He?

My answer is: no, He doesn’t. Not that He can’t, just simply that (I believe) often He just chooses not to.

You see, being in control of everything doesn’t mean that you are controlling everything.  The word we use for this phenomena is: delegation.

When we read the stories in 1 and 2 Kings we see how God uses other rulers, such as Pharaoh (a couple of them throughout the ages) and Nebuchadnezzar, for example, to be His means of punishing the Israelites for their rebellion and idol worship. God sent them, so He was in control, but He also punishes them afterwards for their unusually cruel, sadistic and self-centered actions when doing His work. So, if God is in total control all the time, and he sends “Nebbie” to kick Tzidkiyahu’s tuchas, why punish Nebbie for just doing what he was supposed to do?

According to the bible it was because of what Nebbie did that he wasn’t supposed to do, by (as I mentioned above) being extraordinarily cruel and later thinking himself higher than God. So God was in control of what He wanted to get done, but He delegated the means and ways of doing it to Nebuchadnezzar, who did what he wanted to and not what God sent him to do.

God was in control, in that He sent the army against Israel to punish them, but He wasn’t controlling what happened because He gave that control to Nebuchadnezzar.

We can see this in the story of Job: God delegated authority to Satan to do harm to Job, but He was still in control in that He limited what level of harm was allowed.

We see this in the story of Shaul ben Kish (Saul, the first King of Israel), in that God caused Saul to prophesy even when he was unwilling to do so, yet Shaul did many things wrong, which caused God to take control back and appoint David as King.

We see this in the story of Yeshua (Jesus) at the rock in Gethsemane,  who prayed that He be delivered (if possible) from what was going to happen to Him. God could easily have stopped that whole affair, but He delegated the authority to Pilate and allowed the slaughter of His son to take place. God had control over it all, but He let the people be in control of the events.

Jonah was called, then he took control and ran away; God took control back and sent a storm (which was destroying the ship.) Eventually, Jonah took back control of the situation and sacrificed himself to save the others on the ship. God took control and sent the fish to save Jonah, and left the rest up to Jonah. It was Jonah who ultimately made the decision to go to Nineveh- if not, he might still be there today, trying to get a good cell signal from the belly of that fish. God called Jonah, Jonah took control and fled, God took control back and sent the storm, Jonah took control back and saved the ship and crew, God controlled the fish to let Jonah think about it for three days. Again, God controlled events just enough to let Jonah decide; God gave Jonah control of his own decision.

How many times do we hear this question, “Why do bad things happen to good people, and how can God allow that to be?” The answer is because we live in a cursed world and bad things happen. God is in control; yet God has said He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, alike (Matthew 5:25.) He also said that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy (Exodus 33:19.) What that means (to me) is that God is in control but He chooses not to control everything that happens.

We have free will, mainly so that we can decide to worship God; if God controls our will, then we can’t choose to worship Him, and that is NOT what He wants from us. God will often (as we see above) control the periphery of our life, make things happen that lead us to a decision, but ultimately we are in control of what decision we make. Who knows how many people over the millennia God has called to do His work but at the last minute they decided not to. God could have made them, but He didn’t, and because He is in control, total control, He called someone else until the plan God had was accomplished. This is what Mordecai meant when he told Hadassah (Esther) in the Book of Esther 4:14:

 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father’s house will perish: and who knoweth whether thou art not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

This is the same position every one of us finds ourselves in, every moment of every day: maybe we are here for a purpose we aren’t aware of, and standing on the precipice of being able to do something wonderful that will, maybe one day, affect all mankind?

If only I knew what the heck that was!!

God is in control of everything, which is the very reason why He doesn’t have to control everything. Whatever He wants to happen will happen, but it is up to each of us to do our part of that plan, to meet and accept the calling God has for us. I don’t know what that is for me- maybe this blog? Maybe my book? Maybe my position at the Zionist Revival Center here in Melbourne? I really don’t know, but I am trying to keep my ears open and my eyes open to see and hear His calling on my life. I don’t want to “pull a Jonah” when the opportunity comes.

Do you see how God has influenced your life? The times He took control and the times He allowed you make your own choice? We can be confident that God’s plan for salvation is true and will be accomplished, in fact, already has been accomplished through Messiah Yeshua. We can also be confident that whatever God wants to happen will happen. The only thing we can’t have any real confidence in is ourselves, and you are the final ingredient in God’s recipe for the calling in your life.

Don’t screw up the stew- keep looking for the opportunities to do God’s work that He will place along the pathway as you walk through this life, and when you see them, choose to do God’s work. God is in control, and he is letting you control what you do.

Choose to do what pleases Him.



Parashah Mattot (Tribes) Numbers 30:2 – 32

God has Moses tell the tribes that any man who makes an oath to the Lord is bound, totally, to that oath. If a woman who is a minor or married makes an oath, she is bound by it so long as the father or husband, the very first time he hears it (no matter how long after it was made) doesn’t disallow it. If she is a widow living on her own she is bound by it, period.

If the husband or father hears the oath, doesn’t disallow it, then later changes his mind and voids it, the woman is free and forgiven of it but the husband will be held guilty for breaking the vow.

The next section tells of the Lord’s command to the people to revenge themselves against Midian for the trouble it caused at Ba’al-Peor, and there were 5 kings of Midian killed, along with Balaam. The Israelites still didn’t learn, as they took all the women and children as bounty instead of destroying them, as God commanded. Moses chewed out the commanders of the army, then ordered all the captive males and the females that were not virgins to be slain.

The final section tells of Gad, Reuben and half of the tribe of Manasseh asking for the land east of the Jordan because it was good for cattle, which was their livelihood. Moses gave them ‘what-for’, reminding them that the last time some of the people refused to go across the Jordan the entire nation had to wander in the desert for 40 years. These tribes then promised to fight with Israel on the west side until all the land for the people was conquered before settling down for good. They said they would build sheep pens and homes, and after their promise to fight with their brothers, Moses gave permission but he reversed their statements, and told them to build homes, then sheep pens. This showed that Moses knew where the priorities should be: God first (obey His commandment to conquer the land), family next, then job!

The lesson I would like to discuss with you today is about the taking and honoring of vows. Even though the vows discussed here are to the Lord, since it is always about God, any and every vow we take, whether to God or to another person, should be honored. Because the failure to honor our vows is a sin against the Lord (remember what David said after his adultery with the wife of Uriah and then having killed Uriah to cover it up: he said he sinned against God, and God alone) we should be very careful when we make a vow.

Since vows are so important, let’s make sure we are all on the same page; a vow is a promise, pledge, or personal commitment. In simple terms, when you say you will do something, you have made a vow. There is no such thing as a “maybe” or “if I remember” in the kingdom of God.

How would you like it if you came before the Lord and he said he didn’t remember telling you you were saved? Or maybe He says, “Oh, yeah, the “call on my name” thing. Well, uh, you see…that was said in haste. Things have changed so here’s the SPF 5000 and an umbrella- have a nice afterlife!”

We are commanded not to lie. Yeshua says we shouldn’t even make an oath, and there is nothing for us to swear by, anyway- the heavens, earth and everything else belong to God so we can’t swear by them, and we shouldn’t swear by God, either, unless we really, really, REALLY mean it. That’s because we will be held liable.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with making an oath, but I do think Yeshua warned us, just as God does in this Parashah, that because an oath or vow is so binding, we shouldn’t even make one (knowing how weak and prone to sin we are.)

A very valuable lesson I learned when in Sales is this:

People don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do.

There is a wisdom in that statement that goes all the way back to this parashah. That’s why we are to be people who obey God, who keep our word, no matter how important or even how unimportant it is. If I promise to help someone move, or if I tell my spouse I will take out the garbage- if I can’t be trusted with a simple vow, how can I be trusted with an important one? Think of the parable of the talents, where the men that did well with a little were given more, and the one who did nothing with the little he had had even that taken from him. A promise is a vow, is an oath, is no different than when we just say we will do something. It is better not to promise than to promise and renege.

No excuses. One of the saddest lessons I learned in Sales was that I could almost guarantee the one sale that will cancel before the paperwork hits the office was the one I made with a “Christian” family. They would listen, we would talk and they would sign. Before I got back to the office they had cancelled, always with the explanation that they “prayed on it” and God told them this wasn’t the right time. I would remind them that Yeshua said to let your ‘nay be nay and your yea be yea’; seems to me that if God tells us to honor our oaths then He would be the last one to tell us to cancel a deal. It is the law of the land that says they have three business days to cancel, not God! God says do what you say you will do.

I am just as guilty as anyone else in that I say I will do something, fully and honestly meaning to do it, then I forget. I don’t think God allows age-related memory issues to be a factor in promising to do something.

Let’s all try to make promises that we will keep, and if we aren’t sure then we should just say no instead of maybe. Make a stand for righteousness and honesty, with God and with each other. If you say you will do something, do it; and if you aren’t sure you will do it, or not sure you want to do it, then just say, “I’m sorry- I won’t do that.” The person may be upset with you, but it is better to be honest with God and people than to lie. And don’t make excuses for that- if you say you will do something and you don’t, whether or not you meant to, you lied. It is a matter of history, not of intention. Do, or don’t do, say you will, or say you won’t, but do not say you will and then not do so.

Yeshua says, in Matthew 25:40, that which we do the least of His brethren, we do to Him. When you make a promise, give a vow, or just say you will take care of something, you are talking directly to Yeshua, and He is the direct link to God.

Remember that the next time you are asked to do something.

We Need to Forgive Everyone, but We Need Forgiveness Only From God

When was the last time you visited Psalm 51? That’s what David wrote after being convicted by Natan the Prophet of the sins he committed against Uriah and Bat Sheba. Yet David knew who he really sinned against- God, first and foremost; David said that against God, and God alone, did he sin.

That doesn’t mean David didn’t realize the effect of his actions against these people, but God is the one who gave us the commandments and when we violate even the simplest of these laws, regulations and ordinances, we have sinned against God directly. Even if the actions are directed to another person, it is against God that we have sinned.

So, we ask forgiveness of God, and we should ask forgiveness of the person we have sinned against, too. If that person decides to forgive us, that is good for them.

No, I didn’t get that wrong: when someone forgives us it is good for them because God doesn’t tell us to be forgiven by others, He tells us to be forgiving of others. When we forgive we are doing what is right in God’s eyes. No person can forgive someone their sin- only God can do that. Your act of forgiveness is actually between you and God; likewise, the sin itself is between that person and God. Your forgiveness of others helps you, not them. They have to deal with God for forgiveness on their own.

The one who has sinned needs forgiveness from God- the sin is between the sinner and God. God is the ultimate judge, He is the one who will decide if we get to sit under our own fig tree and enjoy our wine, or if we spend eternity out of His presence, in misery and darkness gnashing our teeth.

Forgiveness is a wonderful remedy for the pain of being sinned against. Truth is, the only way to make the pain go away is to forgive the person who caused it. That isn’t easy to do, but it is the only remedy. Maybe that’s why God commands us to be forgiving? He wants us to be happy and, therefore, He tells us to forgive (so that we can be happy.)

Maybe that’s also why God is so willing to forgive us? It makes Him happy, too, and helps Him to remove the pain of being ignored and rejected by the ones He loves so much (He is much better at it than we are. Thank God for that, right?)

Yeshua tells us to “…seek ye first the kingdom of God,…” when He is talking to the crowds during the Sermon on the Mount. Within the context of this speech He has been talking about our relationships with each other, about leaving our gift at the altar to make reparations with those we have sinned against, about forgiving each other as God forgives us, and that’s when He tells us to not seek things of the world but things of God. The world seeks vengeance, God seeks forgiveness and reconciliation.

When it comes to things of God, forgiveness is definitely near the top of the A-List. Forgiveness is a natural result of loving each other and since Yeshua said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love each other, forgiveness (in my book) comes in at a very close third.

Shaul tells us to run the good race. If we are to run the race well, we need to understand and remember that to love God, love each other, and forgive each other is the Win:Place:Show of the most important race we will ever be part of.

We must forgive others and we should ask for forgiveness from those we have sinned against, but always ask forgiveness from God first and foremost because that is the most important forgiveness there is, and the only forgiveness you need.

Where is God?

I saw an advertisement in the newspaper this morning that was titled, “Find Your Happy Place. It’s not that far away.” The ad was for locating activities in the area using the newspaper, but I thought about it in a spiritual way.

Where is our “happy place” in this world? Is there really is a happy place for Believers in this world? Shaul says that although we live in the world, we are not of the world. We are of God, so then shouldn’t our happy place be where God is?

Well, DUH!! Imagine- heaven is a happy place! Who wuddah thunk it?

For me, my happy place is where God is, and isn’t God everywhere? We know He’s omniscient, we understand that He is omnipotent, but I think we often forget that He’s omnipresent, too. His works and wonders are everywhere: in the sunset, in the fact that there is a sunrise, when we breathe, when we eat and get nourishment, when we pray and feel His spirit within us- you know, that “tingly” feeling that feels like a chill, but you aren’t cold? I know when I feel His presence because I cry. Not the loud, bawling type of cry. It’s the type of cry you get when there is a happy ending, when you feel a rush of endorphins, when the good guy gets the girl ( or vice-versa).

I feel like I have been washed clean, inside, and I am emotionally and spiritually relaxed like no hot tub or massage can ever make me feel.

Our happy place should be anywhere we are because God is everywhere.  In Biblical times people thought that the gods of the nations were geographically restricted. The gods of the Arabs were in their temples and their territories, the gods of the Babylonians were in Babylon, the god of the Israelites was in Israel, and so forth. Na’aman, the general we read about whose tzaraat was cured when he washed in the Jordan River, took dirt from Israel back to his country so he could worship the God of the Jews. Ezra and Nehemiah were allowed to rebuild Yerushalayim to appease their God by repairing His house. The people saw their gods as their property, assigned and restricted to the local areas.

The true God, Adonai, whose name is Y-H-V-H, is everywhere. He is not just everywhere physically, but everywhere in time, too. He was before the beginning of time, and will be after time is done.

It used to be we thought time was eternal and infinite, but with Einstein we now know time is relative. If time is not absolute, then we really can say, actually and not metaphorically, that God was before time, and that He will be after time is done. We will be there when time is no longer a factor of our existence. After all, when we are living in eternity, in infiniteness, without a beginnig and an end, time cannot be measured, ergo: there is no time.

But there will be God.

Peter Pan had to find his happy thought to fly; many people who meditate find a happy place, in their mind, to relax; we who worship God don’t have to look for a happy place or a happy time because it is here, it is now, and it is all around us. Our happy everything is God, and when we live, think, and breathe God we will always be in our happy place.

Oy! If only it were that easy, right? I think everyone reading this will agree with me up to this point, and we all (yes, me too)  have just one question: why don’t I feel the “happy” I should be feeling if God is all around me? Why am I sad, why do I get angry and frustrated, why can’t I be happy like that other person who always seems to have a joyful and happy disposition? What am I doing wrong?

Want the answer? ….so do I!

I don’t know why I allow my worldly feelings to control me. I ask God to show me how to call on His Ruach so I am happy all the time, so I always talk and act in a Godly manner, so that (as David asked) the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart will always be acceptable to God. I should be like Ebenezer Scrooge when he wakes up on Christmas Day and can’t contain his joy. We should all be like that, everyday of our lives, every minute. All we need to do when the darkness starts to enfold us is remember the light, remember that throughout Eternity we will be basking in God’s glory, His presence shining all around us, His Shekinah warming the very cockles of our heart, always, forever, never ending. Oy!! What a wonderful picture I just painted.

Then reality steps in.

You know, I am pretty much sick and tired of reality. I want “God-ality” instead of “real-ality” and I am going to start to live in God-ality more and more, until I am done with this world, altogether. Maybe you can join me?  Truthfully, it will be nearly impossible for me to do this- I hope and pray you have an easier time of it. I know that there are two things to remember: with God all things are possible, and when I am weak, that is when I am strongest. I will lean more and more on the Ruach, and call out to God for help and strength more and more often. I will try to be aware of my feelings, and those of others, to keep an eye out for the warning signs of real-ality creeping in. These are all things I will start to do right now.

I’m scared of this revelation and my determination to make it a part of my life: it will be hard. It means I can never let my guard down, never just “let it all hang out.” I will have more troubles and strife because when I ask God to strengthen my spiritual muscles, He does- He works them to death! I suddenly have all these problems and things go wrong. God pushes my buttons so that I learn to let go of what my nature wants to do and lean on His spirit within me for strength and to tell me what to do. Asking God to strengthen your spirit is asking for trouble, literally. That’s the only way to strengthen your spirit- you need to use it. It’s like a muscle that has to be developed. A muscle has to be strained past the breaking point, actually destroyed a little, so that it rebuilds itself stronger. That’s how body-builders get such big muscles: the muscle is worked so hard some of it actually dies. The body then rebuilds that muscle, and adds more to it. Result: small, weak muscles become bigger, stronger muscles.

So, to get to my happy place and stay there all the time means I will have more problems and strife in my life. The problems and strife will increase as my ability to remain in my happy place increases, until, eventually, no amount of tsouris will be able to overwhelm me. I will be in my happy place all the time, even when things aren’t going well.

Hmmmm….what the heck am I getting myself into here? I don’t know, but I think I am heading in the right direction. What do you think? I guess the only thing to do from now on is try, pray for help, and do as the Patriarchs did- go forth in faith. I don’t where I will end up with this, and I don’t know what I will have to pass through or undergo, but I am on my way. Pray for me, and pray for my wife, too. Sweetheart- I am afraid you will be dragged along on this trip, so get ready. Being with you is my favorite happy place in this world, and we will both be happier together with God.

A final word about “happy place” that comes from one of my favorite shows, “Harvey”. Jimmy Stewart is Elwood P. Dowd, a man who is friendly and happy and totally unfazed by the world. Humble and gracious, he hates no one and invites total strangers to dinner. Oh, yes- his best friend is a 6-foot tall, invisible rabbit named Harvey.  The part I like best is when he is talking to a young woman and tells her that when he was young, his mother said that in this world you have to be either very, very smart or very, very nice. He said for a long time he was very smart, and he recommends nice.

With God’s help I am on my way to a constantly happy place here on Earth. C’mon along.

Thank God for what you have by giving it away

That’s right- thank God for what you have by giving it away. Not all of it, but share the blessings you have received with others. That is what God wants us to do, not just as a means of doing Tzedakah (charity) but because He commands us to care for the widows and the orphans. I take this not just literally, but more metaphorically to mean all people in need. If a family has father, mother and children but they are homeless and poor, they are no less important than a widow or orphan with regards to us sharing what we have with them.

I found this answer to a question on a  test I took when attaining my Messianic Minister Certification. I don’t have the exact question, but you can glean from the answer what the question must have been:

    It was expected that anyone living in a town would accommodate strangers (as long as they were Jews) in their own homes. A curtain would be hung from the main doorway as a  “Vacancy” sign would be turned-on in a modern hotel. Sometimes a table would be placed outside to show food was available within that house. The host would attend to the traveler himself, making sure every need was looked to. The host was always to be pleasant, have a happy disposition and be generous with a willing attitude as if he was receiving the Shekinah glory itself. He was to promise little but give much. The traveler was expected to thank the host graciously, ask about his family and stay in the place he was first welcomed into. He should eat whatever was served him gladly, and when leaving to give a blessing to the host and the household.

There is the story of Lot trying to protect the angels coming to Sodom, the story of the man who took in the travelling Levite (the last chapter in Judges), and other references throughout the Tanakh about the generosity and willingness to share with others. God also commanded not to reap the edges of your fields so the gleaners would have something to eat, not to go back and re-reap the trees or vines so that what you missed would be available for the poor, and Yeshua told us we would always have the poor with us: perhaps they are here as a means for us to faithfully follow God’s commandments. If God says to share the blessings He has given us with those in need, doesn’t it make sense that we would always have to have someone in need? If no one is in need, then God gave a commandment we can’t follow- that doesn’t sound right, does it?

As we are (almost) forced to be thankful tomorrow, let’s share what we have with those that have less. Invite someone you know who can’t afford a real dinner to your dinner (and give them a big “doggie bag” when they leave), contribute to your favorite charity, donate to a shelter food or items of clothing (nice stuff!) that you can part with (we can always part with things; really, we can) and think of ways to continue to do Tzedakah after tomorrow.

President Washington declared this a holiday as a means of giving thanks for the Constitution being ratified, and (thank God) it has grown into more. It does force some people to be thankful, even if it is just for a paid day off from work. I guess that’s a start.

God is generous, and not because He expects something back from us, as humans usually do. I mean, really…God owns everything, He can create whatever He wants with a thought, so what can we possibly give Him back He doesn’t already have? That’s how we know, absolutely, that God is not altruistic in giving out blessings, but totally loving and generous. We need to be that way. Giving thanks should be a daily occurrence, and we should not just give thanks but show our thankfulness by sharing that which He has given to us with those that don’t have.

I believe this is a test: God has allowed some to go without so that we, those who have, can demonstrate God in us by sharing, willingly and gladly, with others; the Manual says God loves a cheerful giver, that’s why we need to give to the needy. We need to give to those who can’t pay us back, so there can’t be any thoughts of reciprocity. That’s how God gives- without any thoughts or expectations of receiving anything back but thanks.

If you have never done anything totally out of generosity, you are missing something exceptionally rewarding. You want something back? OK- try this: give what you want to keep to someone who needs it and has nothing to give you back. Then, after you’ve seen their look of appreciation, and how unbelievably happy they became to have what you gave them, tell me that you didn’t cry at the joy your soul felt at that moment.

King David tells us, in the Psalms, to “taste of the Lord and see that He is good.” When you give without any thought of receiving, and you give what is important to you, something you know God has provided to you, that is true Tzedakah. I guarantee when you do this you will feel a joy that will fill your soul and elevate you to a height of spiritual pleasure you won’t ever forget: that’s how giving the way that God gives makes us feel.