forgiveness is only for the past

Huh? Whaddaya mean, “Forgiveness is only for the past?” Can’t I be forgiven for what I might do tomorrow? Am I s’posed to be perfect from this moment on?

The answer is “Yes” to the first, and “No” to the second.

The real question should be, “Am I forgiven automatically?” The answer to that, from what I read in the Bible, is that we are not automatically forgiven. Forgiveness is something we have to ask for in order to receive. It is available, God is always willing to give it, but it is something we must ask for in order to actually receive.

And more than that, when we ask for it the asking must be genuine- it must be a true T’shuvah (turning from sin) that comes from our heart and soul. We must be more than sorry that we sinned, we must be rueful, regretful, and so upset that we did this to God (for every sin we commit is, first and foremost, against God- read what David said in Psalm 51) that we shouldn’t just ask for forgiveness, but also ask that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) strengthen and convict us in the future so that we can recognize, and overcome, the sinful desire before it becomes a sin.

Forgiveness, the Kingdom of God, Salvation: they are all here, now, and waiting for us. We are all pre-qualified and able to receive these wonderful gifts from God, the results of Messiah Yeshua’s (Jesus) sacrificial death: all we need to do is ask for them.

Where’s the catch? What do we have to give in order to receive? That’s a worldly view, isn’t it? The world doesn’t give without expecting something back, but God…..wait a minute! God does expect something back from us! After all, He’s made covenants with us. Each covenant (despite what you may have been taught) doesn’t annul the previous covenant, but instead is appended, adding to it, building upon it, so that every covenant God has made with us is still valid. From the rainbow of the Noahdic Covenant to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31): every covenant is still valid in God’s eyes, and we are expected, as with any covenant, to fulfill our side of the deal. What is our side? To fear God, honor His word (Torah), accept Messiah Yeshua as our Savior and do T’shuvah in our hearts, which should then translate to a change in our actions.

Your forgiveness is already accomplished, but you have to ask for it. Every day, every moment, when you know you have sinned and even if you don’t think you have sinned. Don’t believe for a second that just because you think you are blameless that you are- God knew our nature well enough that He even commanded there be a sacrifice for the sins we commit unintentionally (Leviticus 4.)

We all sin, we all will continue to sin, we all are born into sinfulness, we all have iniquity in our very nature, and the only humans who don’t have to worry about sinning are the dead ones. But we can overcome our nature, we can be more than just what we are; thanks be to God (and to Yeshua) for the Grace provided which will save us, and for the Holy Spirit which can guide and help us overcome who and what we are, so that we can be more of who and what God wants us to be.

We are told that if we ask, we shall receive, so, then…ask! Ask for forgiveness often, ask for yourself, ask for others, and ask with reverent thankfulness.

Change sucks

But I do change…every day! I change my socks, my shirts, sometimes I go to work taking a different route. Why, once I even tried a new blend of coffee!

That’s all fine and good, but when was the last time you changed your job? And not because the boss suggested a different career path, but because you wanted to try something new?

When was the last time you decided to try a new food at a restaurant? To try reading a different type of book? To learn a new language?

Or, what I really would like you to try: when was the last time you tried to stop doing something you know you shouldn’t?

AHA!! Now we’re getting somewhere. AHA!! Now we’re hitting close to the mark. AHA!! Now we’re breaking a sweat just thinking about it! AHA!! Now we’re……Okay, okay, I get it: enough with the “AHA! Now we’re…” stuff.

Change does suck, mainly because we all get comfortable, even when we are talking about the miraculous workings of the Lord, God Almighty. The Israelites walked through the desert with a cloud to lead by day and a column of fire at night, and after a while all they saw was the cloud and the fire; they lost the “feeling” of wonder at what God was doing. Not only did God miraculously feed them good tasting manna every morning, but He provided water and food in the desert. And eventually they complained about how boring the manna was and how they wanted vegetables.

What has God done in your life that you have become inured to?  As for me, I miss the sense of His presence I used to feel when I was first saved. I miss His touch, which I haven’t really felt for years. That’s not His fault- His hands are always reaching out to me. It’s my fault because I am taking for granted what He has done, and what He still does. I am thankful that, every once in a while, I still get teary-eyed when I think of the moment the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) first entered me. I am thankful for the way God has protected me and Donna, and how He is answering my prayers to reconcile me to my children. Slowly, all too slowly for me, but I trust in His timing more than in my own understanding.

We come to trust God, to feel comfortable with our salvation, and to take advantage of His protection. Even David, a man after God’s own heart, said in Psalm 51, verses 10-12:

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.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation; oh, how many times have I asked that from Thee, Oh Lord? As if You should do that, when it is really my responsibility, it is my job, my actions that will restore the joy. The joy You gave me is still there, deep inside, covered with dust from all the times I left it sitting and unused, hidden under the moss that grew as I did not move myself, spiritually, farther along the path of righteousness You have laid out before me, and rusted from my lack of care and maintenance.

I started this message with nothing, and look what You have given me, given us…a message that is straight from Your heart, Lord: “Come closer to me and I will come closer to you” We need to move, we need to change, we need to break out of our comfort zone and push the envelope, and we need to stop using so many cliches and just do it!

I must try to identify something that will please the Lord and work it into my life. I must try to pray to God to remind me of His wonderful gifts that He provides, every day, and thank Him constantly. I must try to see, what I have gotten used to seeing, in a new light, and I must commit myself to doing more in His name; at home, at work, at worship, and even at play.

This is what I must do, and I will try to do it for the rest of my life. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable, and everyone needs to take a breather, now and then, to enjoy what they have. I ask you all to recognize, right at this moment, what God has given you and thank Him, reach out to Him and ask for His touch and open your heart to receive it. Even if you don’t get that sensation, that tingling all over, that sense of relief that causes you to cry tears of joy …wait for it. We are not supposed to test God, but He is right and just in testing us, After all, He never goes back on His word and we do so often it almost seems silly to even promise anything. So keep asking, as the woman asked the unrighteous judge for justice (Luke 18), because whereas even sinners will do what is right for their own sake, how much more so will God do what is right because He is righteous?

Just keep at it, keep asking, keep working towards being a little different every day, doing something a little differently now and then. Be comforted by God’s gifts and protection, but don’t get too comfortable.

Will Rogers once said that even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there. So, get off your tuchas, get moving and change into what God wants you to become.

Change sucks, and it is scary, and it is disquieting, and it is hard. However, stagnation is worse.



I don’t deserve this

The parashah this coming Shabbat tells of the sin of the Golden Calf at Mt. Sinai. We see in this one of the less spoken about aspects of Moshe (Moses), which is his courage. We haven’t really seen that too much; I mean, when he first met the Lord at the burning bush all he wanted to do was get out of the calling. He did something along the way to Egypt that got God so mad He almost killed Moses (the Chumash suggests that Moses pretended to be sick to delay going), and even though he appeared before Pharaoh, it was Aaron that did most of the talking and doing. It took Moshe a while before he really stood up and took charge.

At the mountain after the people sin, God tells Moses to stand back so God can destroy these rebellious and stiff-necked people, then make a nation out of Moses. So, what does Moses do? He doesn’t stand out of the way, he stands in the breach! He places himself between a rebellious and sinful people deserving of death and the Lord, God Almighty, who is all powerful and, I should add, pretty pissed off at the moment.

Pretty gutsy, says I.

You may be wondering, “What does this have to do with the title? What doesn’t he deserve?”

The same thing that you don’t deserve- salvation.

The people deserved death, and they weren’t worthy to have God’s presence with them, but thanks to Moses they not only got to survive their sin, but also had God’s presence travel with them for the next 40 years.

Moses stood between God and the sin of the people to save them, and what they got they got because of Moses.

Yeshua stood between God and all the people in the world, and every sin that ever happened and ever will. Because of Yeshua we all have the hope of salvation- what we have we have because of Yeshua.

Shaul tells the Gentile Roman Believers in Romans 11 that they aren’t to be proud or haughty when thinking about how they have salvation that the Jewish people don’t because if it weren’t for the Jews (not accepting Yeshua fully), they wouldn’t have anything. They have what they have because of the Jewish people.

In Deuteronomy 9: 5-6 Moses tells the people that they are going to enter a wonderful land of milk and honey, which they don’t deserve to enter. The only reason they are entering is because of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I don’t deserve what I have: salvation from my sinful nature, peace of spirit from the Comforter Yeshua sent to me (The Ruach HaKodesh, or Holy Spirit) and hope for my loved ones that comes only from the promise Yeshua made that whatever we ask for in His name we shall receive. Even though I know it comes down to these people choosing to accept God and Yeshua, and that because God gave us all free will they may never be saved, I have no hope for what I can do and every hope that God can do what I can’t. I trust that He is answering my prayers, and that if anyone can get my children to accept God and reconcile to me, it is God. And if  (and when ) they do, I won’t deserve it- it will be because of what God does.

We don’t deserve what we have, and we don’t have what we deserve. Thank God for that! We all should remember to remember this: we don’t deserve what we have with God. This is not something we should beat ourselves down with, it is something which we can use to continually raise ourselves up! When we understand and appreciate all that others have done for us it should encourage us to do better, ourselves.

We owe it to God, to Yeshua, to Moses, to Abraham, to the Prophets, to everyone and anyone who has stood in the breach between us and God to make our salvation possible. And because they have risked and (more often than not) lost their lives for us, we need to do everything we can to honor their sacrifice, every moment of every day.

I am saved by the Grace of God, by the sacrificial death of Yeshua, by the courage of Moses, with the guidance of friends and strangers who knew the Lord, by my Rabbi, who helped me to see how to maintain and strengthen my faith, by so many people. I owe it to them to continue, faithfully, to be a better me and to help others as they have helped me.

I don’t deserve what I have been given, and neither do you. Let’s show our gratitude by running the good race, keeping our eyes on the prize, and doing for others what others have done for us.


Remember one of the first things we learned as children was to say “Please” and “Thank you?” Once learned, we do it so often it just comes out. Unfortunately, when it becomes automatic, it also becomes somewhat meaningless, doesn’t it?

God has given us more than anyone on earth ever could or ever will. Despite the wonderful things I have received from friends and family, they can’t compare with life, love, health, continued work and (most important) salvation through Messiah Yeshua- all of that is from God.

So I thank God every day; in fact, multiple times during the day. And, yes…sometimes it is rote, it is automatic. I thank him for medicines that work when I take my Zocor in the morning, I thank him for the food He provides whenever I eat a meal or just have a nosh (snack), and I thank Him at the beginning and end of every prayer. I don’t say this to show off or brag about how “holy” or thankful I am, I share this with you to ask if you are as thankful as you should be? The truth is, God has done so much for me that if I was to thank Him for everything He has done, one thing at a time, and once every minute, I would have to live to be older than Methuselah!

When I am praying at worship services, and I cover myself with my Tallit to be in my own little Sukkah, I thank God and cry. Oh, yes, I have Tsouris in my life, I have aches and pains, my hair is thinning at the top and I live in a cursed and fallen world, which is getting worse by the minute. There are many terrible things that happen, and I am more often than not falling short of what I am sure God wants from me. If I concentrated and thought about all the evil I have done to others, and how much I have hurt people, I could go through a ton of anti-depressants and still feel bad.

But thank God (there I go again- thanking God!) that He has taught me that to concentrate on the bad things is to work with the enemy- to berate and belittle myself for being human is to help the enemy steal my soul. This is one of the greatest gifts I have received from the Lord through His Ruach (Spirit): I have realized that when you look to the bad all you see is bad, and when you look to the good then you get to see the good. It’s selective reasoning, selective sight, and selective attitude.

My blood type is B Positive, which may explain why even though I am a cynical so-and-so, I try to see the best outcome, the bright side, the positive. Just like air rushes to fill a vacuum and moths are drawn to the light, I must try to see the best outcome, to explain the reason something is happening is from the the Holy One’s influence. And very often, I have to accept that what I see in the world is not the work of the Holy One, but the work of HaSatan.

When God is absent in a person, there is a vacuum- a spiritual vacuum that cries out to be filled. If the person doesn’t fill it with God’s spirit, then the enemy fills it with himself. Yeshua told the parable of the man who’s house was swept clean, but after the evil spirit left, the man didn’t fill it with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) so the demon that was evicted came back, with 7 more demons worse than himself and took over, again (Matthew 12:45 and Luke 11:26.)

So, nu? In this world of tsouris and hate, evil and self-importance where the legal powers have rejected God and the godless are held in esteem, how do we stay focused on keeping a positive and God-fearing attitude? The answer is: be thankful. Count your blessings and you will be surprised how many of them there are.

You have to count them correctly, though- you need to be thankful for the way God has protected you. If you have aches and pains, see the positive side of that- you aren’t dead! You don’t have missing limbs, and even if you do, do you have any other limbs that are still working? If you have illness, do you know people who are sicker than you?

In a nutshell, just remember the old adage, “I used to be sad because I had no shoes, then I saw a person who had no feet.” Being thankful, being happy (especially in this world) and being positive is not easy- it is stinking hard! Yeshua didn’t say let’s have a party together, He said pick up your execution stake and follow me. We need to work at seeing the bright side; and when you do, and when you become good at it, you will not only be happier but you will help make others happy, too.

They say to every cloud there is a silver lining. The silver lining is seen when the sun hidden by the cloud comes out from behind it. Every cloud in our life has the Son behind it, waiting to come out and show you the silver lining. We all know that on the cloudiest day, the sun is just behind the cloud waiting to break forth in light. In the same way we need to look for and wait on the Son of God, and God, Himself, to break forth through the clouds of despair and frustration that living in a cursed world will have on all of us. We all become depressed, we all feel out of sorts and desperate now and then. It’s a human thing.  Don’t let it get you down.

When we are thirsty we look for water, and when we drink we feel revived. When your soul is thirsty for joy and relief, look for the Living Water and drink your fill.

The way to have joy and spiritual relief is to thank God for all you do have. Don’t get hung-up on the bad stuff but look right through it for the light behind it- seek ye first the things of heaven. There is always something to be thankful for, so go and find it!

If you are sad and depressed, it is no one’s fault but your own. Fight against it! God gives us a spirit of victory, not of fear. The enemy wants you to belittle yourself, to be afraid, to feel alone and unloved. Don’t you dare buy it! God has everything you need, everything that is important and more of it than you can ever use in your entire lifetime. It’s all there for you, already wrapped and waiting for you to open it.

Seek and ye shall find, so get your butt out there and seek! Be thankful, praise God and look for Him in everything. When you do that you find the joy He has for you.

No One Turns to God When They’re Happy

I may be wrong with today’s title. I am certain there are people out there who haven’t accepted God’s Grace and are enjoying fulfilling, useful and happy lives. Maybe there are people who have comfort and joy in their lives, but haven’t accepted God or His Messiah, then suddenly realize that it is not because of their own worthiness or power that they are so well off but because God is giving them blessings out of nothing more than His love for His children.

Maybe there are people who can appreciate Him and say to themselves, “Hey, know what? This is too good to be true, and I don’t deserve any of it because I am a sinner. So, while I am enjoying my life, let me stop and thank God for it, and take this time to accept His Grace, the salvation He made possible through Messiah Yeshua, and ask for forgiveness for the sins He is not punishing me for. ”

Maybe this is happening, maybe there are people who come to the Lord this way, maybe… but I really, REALLY doubt it.

Humans are self-centered, self-absorbed, self-important and hedonistic. And those are our good qualities!

I do not ever recall, in the 18 years I have been saved and even before, talking to anyone or hearing of anyone who came to the Lord in the midst of their joy. It is almost a foregone conclusion that when we are happy all we care about is staying happy. We don’t want to know or think of anything else.

In D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 8:10-20 Moshe warns the children of Israel against falling prey to their nature, in that once they have been secure and happy in the land they will forget it was God who did all that for them and that it was God who made it all possible, driving out the nations before them, and that it was because of God’s love for them that they have that security and abundance. He tells them to remember the Lord in the midst of their joy and not to think that they earned any of the peace they will have. In other places in the Torah he tells them to never think they are worthy of the land God is giving to them: in fact, Moses reminds them throughout the Torah about their stubbornness, their stiff-necked attitude and continual refusal to follow God’s laws wholeheartedly.

I think you have to agree with me- we don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it. We want, we pray, we get, and when we are happy we think it was by our power we now have it and we ignore God. When it all goes away, we cry and kvetch and, finally, when we are beaten into a sobbing hulk of self-pity, those who are still smart enough to remember where it all came from look up to God, repent and ask forgiveness.

And He forgives. Over and over, He forgives. Not because we deserve it, because we don’t. I mean, maybe the first, or second, or even third time we screw it all up I can see His forgiveness being given. But after 40 years in the desert and still not paying attention? After thousands of years of distorting His word, making our own rules from His simple commandments? And what about the religions with rules that are against His commandments? How can He still be able, let alone willing- actually, wanting!-  to forgive us time and time again?

The answer is as simple as the commandments He gave us- He can, He does and He wants to because He is God.

If you are reading this and don’t consider yourself saved, thinking that your life is your own, please take this test:

  1. Can you add even 1 hour to the day?;
  2. Can you change one hair on your head from black to gray (without medical intervention)?;
  3. Do you know when you will die?;
  4. Do you know when Yeshua will return?

If you cannot answer any of those questions with an absolute “Yes”, I suggest you reconsider your position about God. And soon, because the prophecies about judgement are all pointing to the unavoidable conclusion that it will be here soon….very, very soon.

If your life is joyful and serene, please thank God for it. It’s because of Him. And if your life sucks, you are unhappy, depressed, needy and feel rejected, then look to God for help. He is there to bring you out of the pit and into the light.

And know this- those of you who are joyful and at peace today may be in tribulation tomorrow, so enjoy it and thank God for it.

Never lose sight of the fact that whatever you have that feels like a gift from above is just that- a gift from above. Yacov (James) reminds us in James 1:17 that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God doesn’t change, and we can. I think that is one of the greatest gifts that God provided for us, the fact that we have not just the opportunity to change, but the ability. They say the leopard cannot change it’s spots nor the tiger it’s stripes, but we can change; no matter how old we are, no matter how bad we’ve been (or good, for that matter- it can go both ways) and no matter how long we’ve been that way.

God will accept you whenever you ask His forgiveness and request His grace, so don’t wait for the bad times to do so and never forget to thank Him during the good times.

He is worthy and deserving of thanks, all the time.

One Way to Beat the Holiday Blues

It’s the happiest and most joyous time of the year, so naturally, suicides and a general feeling of the Blues are at their highest level of the year, also.

Those who do not have the knowledge, trust, faith or belief in God, at this time of the year, feel that emptiness more than at any other time. This is more my opinion than substantiated fact, but I don’t think anyone will disagree with me. We read about the holiday blues symptom every Christmas season.

Even those people who are adamant God doesn’t exist, or those who refuse to accept Yeshua in the way the Bible says we should and think they are OK (because their Priest or Minister has taught them that so long as you are a “good” person you go to heaven), feel a sense of “incompleteness” because (again, my opinion) they know, deep inside, that they are missing the most important part of what this holiday is supposed to be about.

No one can tell you you are saved and no one can tell you the Spirit of the Living God, the Ruach HaKodesh, is in you. This has to be from your asking God directly, and from your acceptance from God, directly, privately, and faithfully. If you haven’t accepted your own sinfulness, that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah God promised to send to take away your sins, and committed yourself to doing T’shuvah (turning from sin), you can’t receive the ultimate gift, which is the Grace of God, and the the Holy Spirit. And if you don’t have this, then you are missing out. We all need to admit our own overbearing and natural sinfulness, and that we cannot stop sinning without God’s help, and (this is the important part, the part that shows you have really “turned”)  that we do not want to sin anymore. When we do this, and then ask for His forgiveness and guidance for the rest of our life, we can receive the Ruach HaKodesh.

I was afraid that this would make me a different person, that I would have to stop being who I was (although I really didn’t like much of who I was, I didn’t want to lose it.) Here’s the surprise: now that I have been on that path for years, I realize that I haven’t stopped being me, I am just becoming a better me. And I don’t feel that emptiness, or incompleteness that I did before I made that leap of faith.

It’s that emptiness that causes the holiday blues. No one is immune; even those who know and love the Lord have “down” times, and this season seems to make any sadness worse. Maybe because all we see on TV, hear on radio, and are exposed to everywhere we go is joy-joy, happy-happy people and family that all get along and love each other. Yuch! That’s not the real world. And that is what makes this season so joyously unhappy- everywhere we go and everything we see is rose-colored utopia, but then real life hits us in the face.

You may be asking, “So, nu? Steve- what’s this “magic bullet” you have to overcome the holiday blues?”

I was looking over answers to essay questions from a class about incense and prayer that I took when getting my Certificate of Messianic Studies degree and I found this:

Praise has power that is hidden from us until we begin to use it. Praise reminds us of who we are- the children of the Almighty! Praise brings back to our minds all He has done in our lives, and the lives of others. When we praise the L-rd we can’t help but become joyful, for His spirit is awakened in us as we call on His name in thanksgiving. The best way to get out of the dumps is to count your blessings, and that is a form of praise. Praise makes us feel better, and isn’t that a powerful thing?

That’s the answer: thankful prayer and praise. It is so simple and it is so necessary for us to remember to do. In order to praise God we have to enumerate those things that are wonderful and glorious about Him, and when we do that we naturally have to personalize it. That causes us to think about all the things God has done for us. We are a self-centered and egotistical species: when I review the history of our people throughout the Millennia I think, “How can anyone doubt there is a loving, compassionate and forgiving God? If there wasn’t, how else could Mankind have survived for so long?” I mean, really- we are the most self-destructive thing that there ever has been. Yet, despite ourselves, we have survived. Yes, not just survived, but thrived. There just has to be a God in heaven protecting us.

Praise and thankful prayer invigorates the Ruach inside a Believer. C’mon, admit it- I do- sometimes we stifle the Spirit and instead of dying to self we manage to hang on and continue. We overcome the Spirit, which is a shepherd and guide, but can be ignored if our sinful nature is allowed to take charge. It is the constant battle, the reason Shaul (Paul) called himself a wretched man- the little devil on one shoulder and the little angel on the other.

When we praise and give thanks, the little angel turns into Arnold Schwarzenegger and the little devil turns into Steve Urkel.

When the holiday blues start to creep up on you, and anytime during the year you feel down, praise the Lord, give thanks for His salvation, think of all that you do have, and remind yourself that no matter how bad it is now, you have a guaranteed reservation at the Hotel Paradise. And when you get there you won’t ever have to check out. Eternity in Eden is yours, and all you have to do is wait a while longer before you are there. That hope should be able to get you past any temporary situation, which means anything in this life because this life is not the destination and it is not all there is…it is nothing more than the crossing from one place to another.

When you feel down and out, lift up your head and shout, “Thank you, Father! Thank you, Yeshua!! Thank you Ruach!” And when you tell them why you are so thankful, you will feel better.

As my people say, “Try it: you’ll like it! After all, what could it hoit?”

How to Feel Better

Dontcha hate the blues? Not the music genre, the feeling.

All humans get down-in-the-dumps sometimes. It might be the effect of the moon on us, maybe it’s a biorhythm down cycle, maybe it’s too little coffee, maybe it’s too much coffee. Maybe it’s stress from work or kids, or not having a job to go to, or not having kids you wanted. Maybe it’s really bad- a death of a loved one, a sudden tsuris in your life. Maybe you just feel like *&%#.

Whatever the reason, we all feel “blue” now and then. Some people have a real hard time with it, and others get over it quickly.

It is a very individual thing, but all agree it stinks.

There is a way to get over the blues. It isn’t from some hokey television infomercial, or best-selling Self Help book. It’s simple, it’s something anyone can do, and it always works.

It’s giving praise to God and worshipping Him with thankful prayer.

Whoa!! Stop the music!! Steve- you are talking about being sad, feeling blue, hate-the-world-and-everyone-in-it! And now you say, in the midst of that deep, dark funk I am supposed to be thankful? Vas bist du? Meshuggah?

No, I’m not crazy. Well, maybe…but not about this. Praising God and giving thanks to Him requires us to think about what we have to give thanks for. That takes emotional energy and concentration. That makes us think of something different than our meager and petty issues (because compared to Eternal joy in the presence of the Almighty, our current issues are just that- petty and meager) and gets us thinking about what we do have.

Praise has power that is hidden from us until we begin to use it. Praise reminds us of who we are- the children of the Almighty! Praise brings back to our minds all He has done in our lives, and the lives of others. When we praise the Lord we can’t help but become joyful, for His spirit is awakened in us as we call on His name in thanksgiving. The best way to get out of the dumps is to count your blessings, and that is a form of praise.

Praise is powerful. How? When you are as low as you think you could ever feel, do what I suggest- give praise to God. Thank Him for your salvation, think of all that Yeshua did so you can be with God eternally. Think of what the prophets did to try to save the people, think of the things you do have, of how God has interceded in your life. I guarantee if you sincerely think of all that God has done for you, of all He has planned for you, and how little whatever you are going through now will seem when you are with the Lord, you will start to feel better.

I am not saying what you are going through is nothing- please don’t think I am maligning how you feel. What I am trying to point out is that no matter how bad you feel, and I accept that you do feel bad and what you are going through is bad, it is still true that paise will make you feel better, and isn’t that a powerful thing?

To give thanks, to worship praise-fully, takes thought and effort. Especially when you feel bad. It redirects our self-pitying thoughts to worshipful thoughts. It transfixes our concentration to think of all God has done, and brings forward  thoughts of good things and joy, pushing back and out of the way the dark, mournful thoughts of depression. It removes us from ourselves and places us before the Throne of the King: in supplication we find ourselves in the blissful light of the Almighty instead of the dark and dank throes of remorsefulness. Prayer- thankful and praising prayer- lifts us up to the very feet of the Lord of Hosts, and we cannot feel blue when we are in the presence of the King of Kings.

Next time you are sad and forlorn, don’t sulk in self-pity. As the old song says, take the hand of the hand of the man who stilled the waters. Welcome Yeshua into your pity-party, take His hand (which is always opened to you) and let Him lead you out of the darkness and back into the light. Give praise to God, thank God for all you have, and when you are bathed in praise and worship, you won’t be wallowing in self-pity and remorse.

The next time depression knocks you down, let Yeshua lift you up.

Take 2 Prayers, and Call Me in the Morning

Oy! What a mishigas!! Work was rough, I got yelled at by the boss, my spouse is in a bad mood and wants to tell me about it. I want to listen but have been hearing complaints all day long from customers and my compassion gauge is at FULL. Just, everyone….leave me alone!!!

Ever feel that way?  Really? That often? Welcome to the Club, Brothers and Sisters.

In today’s fast..faster..fastest world I think we all get too caught up in a whirlwind of events that just keep coming at us. We feel like we are in an emotional spiral, either revving up to an explosion or falling into oblivion. It’s just too much too much, and too often.

Sometimes I wish I lived in simpler times. I am a Baby Boomer at the end of the cycle, born in the mid-50’s. I remember the innocence of the times and miss that slower, more congenial way of life. Yeah, we were more than innocent- we were naive. We were lied to and all the social tribulations, domestic abuse, pornography and underhanded activities in government that we expose so much today were happening then, too.

But the “feel” of life was nicer. Maybe it’s just Escapism- that desire to go back to a time we recall (truthfully or not) as happier.

The sad truth is, as Thomas Wolfe said, you can’t go home again.

There is a way to feel calmer, to get to a more relaxed state of mind, and to overcome the stress of today’s problems and exhaustive schedule. No, it’s not TM or Tai Chi or Yoga (although there’s nothing wrong with those). What I am talking about is prayer. And not the kind of prayer where you ask God to give you something, but the kind of prayer where you just thank God for all He has given you.

Huh? What’s that? I need help, I need to relax, I’ve got all this stress and all these problems and I need them to go away. And you want me to thank God? You crazy, or what?

No, I’m not crazy (there could be arguments made against that statement, though): I’m right. I know I’m right because it works for me, it works for my wife, and it will work for you, too.

The problem with problems is that they blind us to our blessings. They are like the glare from the sun on your car windshield, which makes it impossible to see what is directly ahead of you. When you focus on your blessings, it’s like putting on polarized sunglasses; once you have them on, you can see everything clearly. It’s that simple.

Prayer, especially thankful prayer, is the way to get passed the world and see the spiritual. It is balm for the soul. When you feel overwhelmed by the world, your life and your problems, you are blinded to the wonderful things that God has provided. It’s normal to feel that way; that’s why God has given us the ability to come into His throneroom through prayer. By the atonement we receive from Yeshua’s sacrifice, we can come boldly before the Lord. In fact, even if you are not “saved”, God will hear your prayer when you come before Him humbly and with a contrite spirit. That’s the way He rolls.

When I was still searching for God, I started to pray. Not because I was a firm believer in God, but because I thought it would help me. I remembered hearing somewhere that if you felt unhappy, smile. If you smile, even if you are unhappy, eventually by smiling you will become happier. I thought, “Why not do the same with prayer? Maybe if I pray like I believe in God, I will start believing more?” Funny thing is, it worked. And I felt better, too. Emotionally, even before I was blessed with the indwelling of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), I felt better. I was relaxed, as if a weight had been lifted. It doesn’t last forever, the weight comes back. Living in the world is like working at the fish market. By the time you come home, you stink of fish. You may wash and wash, eventually getting the smell off of you, but by midday tomorrow you will stink, again.

Prayer is the spiritual soap that cleanses us of the stench from the cursed world we live in.

And, as your Mother always told you, you should wash every day. So, with that thought in mind, start to wash yourself with prayer every day. Start the day clean, and go to bed cleansed from the world. Just say, “Thank you, Father, for all that You do for me. For my salvation, for my health (if you are alive you are healthier than a dead person), for my situation (it can always be worse), for everything You have done, for what You are doing right now, and for everything that You have planned for me.”

As the old saying goes, just count your blessings. In thankful prayer you will find peace, so long as you honestly thank God for whatever He has done for you. In the midst of the worst trials and tribulations, God is there. Remember that poem, “Footprints in the Sand?” When there was only one set of footprints, the writer asks where God was when he was walking all alone through his problems. God’s answer was that the footprints weren’t those of the man, but they were God’s footprints; there was only one set because God was carrying the man through those troubled times.

God carries us through our problems, and there is a reason that Yeshua called the Ruach the “Comforter”. It’s because that’s what it does; it comforts us, it relaxes us, it takes away the worries and the strife. Maybe only temporarily, but that’s another thing to be thankful for- the Spirit, like God, is always there for you. When those feelings of complete and utter despair come back, the Ruach is ready for it.

Feeling out of it? Ready to call it a day and you just woke up? Wanna go to Petsmart after work, pick up something small and defenseless, take it home and KILL IT!!!  Please don’t. Just find a quiet corner somewhere, and thank God for all you have. It may take some effort, I know (believe me…I know!), but it is worth the effort. Let the Comforter comfort, ease into an emotional hot tub, put on your spiritual sunglasses and see through the haze of the world all the wonderful things God has done, and is doing, for you right now.

When you offer up to the Lord thankful prayer, He will give you peace of spirit. Unlike the hard truth that you can’t “go back home again”, thankful prayer is something that will never be gone and will always make you feel better. It is constantly here, easily within reach, and  it works. Try it right now- why wait? Nu? What could it hoit?