Friday, March 31, 2006

Mistress of my own domain

The event I have been hoping for has finally occurred - my housemate is getting married and we're finally free to move out! (The reason we weren't free to move out prior to this is because she couldn't afford the mortage payment on her house by herself.)

She's getting married July 4th, so I'm hoping to be in a new place July 1st.

It's going to be great to be in charge of my own place again.

It's hard to put into words, but it's somehow very annoying to be married and a mother and yet not in charge of the place where you live. All of the work, none of the authority. Blegh.

The best part of moving, though, will be leaving my housemate's wretched, filthy dogs behind.

No more pets. Yay!

Update:

For Alnot's sake, I'll clarify that I do not believe all dogs are wretched, filthy beasts. =) I was referring specifically to my housemate's two animals. She is hardly ever home to take care of them now, and they are both very dirty and very smelly.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Jews and Gentiles

Long ago, when the apostles were first preaching the Good News to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, some of the Jews took it upon themselves to tell the Gentiles that now that they were saved, they must be circumsized and follow Mosaic Law. (The story is written of in Acts chapter 15.)

Peter spoke out against this, saying that they would be placing an undue burden on the Gentiles - for had not they and their fathers been unable to faithfully keep Mosaic Law?

James agreed that it was unnecessary to trouble their Gentile brethren with the whole of the Mosaic Law - instead, they would write to the Gentiles and tell them to abstain from things contaminated by idols, from fornication, from things that were strangled and from blood.

James also pointed out that there were synagogues in most cities which still taught the Laws of Moses - which meant that the Gentiles would have a way of seeking more knowledge of Mosaic Law, should they want it.

The brethren that had assembled to discuss the issue agreed, and thus it was done according to what James had suggested.

Now, here's one point that we need to be really clear on - the Jews were never told that THEY were to put aside their heritage and to stop learning about and practicing the Mosaic Law which had been a part of their life since ancient times. None of them even suggested that such should be the case. Yeshua Himself never said any such thing.

Yet I have heard people espouse the opinion that the Jews, when they accept that Yeshua is the Messiah, must give up being Jews.

If the Gentiles did not have to become Jews, why would the Jews have to become Gentiles?
How well would we respond to being told that in order to become a child of G-d, we had to stop being American? That we couldn't celebrate Thanksgiving, or the 4th of July - that we could no longer participate in elections, or practice free speech, or own guns?

I don't know about you, but I'd look at someone that told me that like they were a damned fool.

Our heritage as Americans came from men - the Jews obtained their heritage from the hand of YHWH Himself. Who are we to tell them to give that up in order to be saved? Isn't that hypocritical, and just as bad as the ancient Jewish believers that wanted to tell the Gentiles to become Jews?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Addendum

I'm pretty sure that I may have caused some confusion with what I've written, so I want to clarify things a little.

I'm not advocating that each and every one of the Redeemed out there embrace Jewish heritage and begin practicing Mosaic Law to the extent that they eat kosher food and celebrate the Jewish Holy Days. I don't want anyone to use Yeshua instead of Jesus, or G-d instead of God, or YHWH instead of Lord, unless they want to.

Take Wes, for instance. Wes doesn't use any of those terms. I don't think he celebrates the Jewish Holy Days, or keeps the Sabbath (Shabbat) from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. Yet it's very apparent to me that G-d has been writing His commandments on Wes' heart the same as He is writing them on mine. The truth which Wes valiantly defends and the love and the kindness in the way that he treats people are testimony to this. Wes keeps G-d's commandments out of love - he just doesn't associate his behavior with the term Mosaic Law.

Now, I'm willing to bet that Wes would greatly enjoy celebrating Passover with my family, or Purim at Heidi's. Not only do I think he'd appreciate the fellowship, but I think he'd enjoy the rich spiritual heritage of these holidays. However, I'd never tell Wes that I think he should start using Yeshua instead of Jesus, or that he'd become a better person if he paid more attention to the Jewish heritage of the Bible - because I don't think that. And bless his heart, I know that Wes does not (and would not) judge those of us that choose to take that route.

I believe that Wes has been called to minister to the people that would be put off by names like Yeshua and the Torah. Much as I believe that my mother is called to minister to people that are put off by names like Jesus and Christian. Through each and every one of us, G-d becomes 'all things to all men'.

A correction, and further expounding on the Covenant

First of all, let me apologize to Pablo - he had made a valid point when he mentioned an old and new Covenant. My mistake was in equating the Covenant with Mosaic Law, as I will explain in a moment.

who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "SEE," He says, "THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN."
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.


The old Covenant was, indeed, an imperfect shadow pointing to the perfect reality to come. The only reason the old Covenant was an imperfect, however, was because of us! The sinfulness and imperfection of humanity is what made the old Covenant inferior to the new, as explained in the very next lin
e:

For finding fault with them, He says,

Right there, we see that the problem with the Covenant formed on Mosaic Law was not the Mosaic Law itself - it was our inability to live up to our end of the Covenant. The Covenant was not the Law - the Covenant was the blessing or the curse for either following the Law or abandoning it.

This is why the new Covenant is superior to the old one - because we no longer have to worry about living up to our end of the Covenant - Yeshua did that for us. When we are covered in His blood, YHWH looks at us and no longer sees our blemishes - He sees us made perfect in our Messiah.

Now, the only way that Yeshua could become our Messiah was by being a perfect sacrifice, free of blemish. How did He become a perfect, blemish-free sacrifice? By living a perfect life according to Mosaic Law. That means that He fulfilled the old Covenant for us, making way for the new Covenant. Now, we are no longer bound by Law, but by Grace. But as Paul said:

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be!

And what is sin? Sin is living our lives in accordance with what we want, rather than what YHWH wants. Sin is lawlessness. Remember:

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

This passage, from the 5th chapter of Matthew, ends on this note:

"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This, and many, many other passages like it throughout the New Testament, make it clear that we are still to strive to incorporate YHWH's commands into our lives - commands delivered through the method of Mosaic Law. The difference is that we are not to incorporate these commands out of fear, but out of love!

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."

"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love."

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Thankfully, as I said, we no longer strive to keep His commandments from a spirit of fear, but rather one of love - because we love Him and we want His will worked in our lives, because we want to become more like Him. We also have the New Testament which goes along with the Old Testament, which teaches us about living by the spirit of the law, not the letter. It is also made clear that it is the Covenant which was replaced, not the commandments. The old Covenant inevitably brought death to sinful humanity, the new Covenant inevitably brings life.

There are certainly plenty of people out there claiming to be Christians, or Messianic, that incorporate Mosaic Law into their lives for the wrong reasons. They try to fulfil the letter of the law and have absolutely no understanding of the spirit of the law. They do not live by love and it is abundantly clear in their lives. This practice is, indeed, something which should be avoided and spoken out against.

However, can anyone that has spent a good deal of time reading what my mother, Serena, and Heidi have written seriously believe that they are incorporating Mosaic Law into their lives in a spirit of fear, attempting to earn their salvation through works? I think most of you would have to agree that both of these precious women practice what they practice because they wish to please their Father, as all little girls wish to please their daddies. And, quite frankly, by the joy and the love that shines through even what they write, I believe it should be apparent that they are pleasing their Father. I know that both of these precious women have shed a lot of light into my life, light which is not theirs but rather the Father's shining through them. These women, and everyone like them, are true witnesses, living lives that are holy and set apart, not from their own doing, but from the work of their Father in them - and does anyone here DARE to tell G-d that the work He is performing in them is wrong?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mosaic Law

(This is for Pablo, primarily, because he has expressed interest in my beliefs regarding Mosaic Law. I hope this will explain my position a little bit better for you, Pablo, and perhaps give you something to mull over.)The Law was never about salvation - the Law was about showing mankind that they had need of salvation, and that they could not obtain it on their own; the law was also about showing mankind how they would obtain their salvation - from a perfect sacrifice.

Some portions of the Law have been completed. Sacrifices are no longer needed, because the final, True Sacrifice was made. Tithing is no longer possible, and circumcision no longer required.

However, having been set free from the slavery of the Law, we are free to recognize it for what it is - a wonderful way to live a peaceful, joyous, spiritually and physically healthy lives - lives in accordance with what YHWH desires for us.

No one that says we have been set free from the Law truly believes that G-d no longer cares about whether or not we keep His commandments. For those that disagree I will pose these questions: when was the last time that you murdered someone? When was the last time you committed adultery? The last time you stole? The last time you made an idol?

The Ten Commandments are an integral part of Mosaic Law. Allow me to repeat myself - the Ten Commandments are Mosaic Law. If you believe that Mosaic law has been entirely done away with, why do you continue to strive to keep this particular portion of it? Why do you believe it is right and necessary to keep this particular portion of it, yet wrong to keep any other portion of it? For those of you that believe that grace and the Law cannot go hand-in-hand, I urge you to take another look at the commandments - all of them - which YHWH gave to the children of Israel. You'll be amazed at what you find!

I'll share a little of what I've found - a few of the reasons why I have come to believe that the Law is much more important than I was taught to believe as a child in church, why the Law is LIFE to the Redeemed and not death.

I really like food, so I'll start with food. Kosher food. Did you know that when an animal dies a violent death, they release toxins into their bloodstream which make the meat unhealthy for human consumption? However, when an animal's throat is slit, the death is too quick for these toxins to be released. Did you also know that the human stomach employs a different method for digesting meat and a different method for digesting dairy? It's hard on our bodies to digest meat and dairy at the same time. I'm sure you've heard of the famous prohibition against eating pig - you may also have heard that the pig is a scavenger that will eat just about anything, and that its meat tends to be filled with unhealthy toxins because of its diet. The same is true of food like lobster, which is nicknamed 'the cockroach of the sea'. The food that the Israelites were told was safe to eat is, indeed, the safest and healthiest food on Earth for human consumption.

We'll move on to disease. Did you know that Mosaic law includes many different commandments that help limit the spread of disease and bacteria? The hygiene in the Torah was thousands of years ahead of its time. It is only in the last two-hundred years or so that the rest of the world has caught up.

Let's move on to marriage and family. The Israelites, so far as I am aware, were the first people of their time period to have such serious restrictions on relationships. No marrying your sister, or your aunt, or your niece, or your daughter, or your widowed mother. Science, again, was years behind this prohibition. We all know now why incest is a bad thing - but to the people alive during the Israelites' march to Caanan, no such knowledge was had. (This is, by the way, another portion of the Mosaic Law which I have yet to see anyone claim has been done away with.)

Now let's take a small look at the environment. The Israelites were instructed to let their fields lie fallow every seventh year - no planting, and no harvesting. Guess what? Any farmer or planter worth his salt will be able to tell you that such a rest is necessary for land in order to keep it from running out of soil nutrients and becoming barren. Of course, this is another area in which the Torah pre-dated human science.

Another area is economics. YHWH established a society which would grant economic prosperity to the largest possible percentage of the population. He knew that there would always be people that would fall on hard times, though, and He made provisions for them - for the widow, the orphan, the stranger in the land. Land owners were instructed not to harvest everything from their fields - they were to leave enough in their fields for the poor people to glean. (One of the most famous instances of gleaning in the Scriptures is Ruth gleaning in Boaz's field.)

Crime and punishment in the Torah was unmatched. There was no such thing as prison, which meant that the innocent and hard-working people of the land did not have to contribute to keeping criminals fed, clothed and sheltered while the criminal was locked away from society. People that committed a crime such as theft were ordered to pay restitution, above and beyond what they had stolen. Those unable to pay became indentured servants, working off their debt in labor to the person from whom they had stolen. This punishment would not last forever, though - every seventh year, all indentured servants were released, unless they themselves chose to stay and become a lifelong servant in the household.

Murder was met with prompt execution. The only catch was that there must be at least two witnesses to testify as to the perpetrator of that murder. It was obviously very important to YHWH that an innocent man not be put to death - even at the risk of freeing a guilty man. This may have also been because YHWH did not want His people to shed innocent blood, which they in turn would be guilty of shedding.

There's a whole lot more that can be found in the Mosaic Law, but I'm aware this is getting pretty long already. I've got a few more things to say, though.

When studying the Mosaic Law, it is important to keep in mind that the Law was modified for the Redeemed after Yeshua's resurrection. For instance, those caught in adultery or sexual immorality were not to be executed - rather, if unrepentant, they were to be cast out of the community of the Redeemed, cut off from all fellowship. It seems fairly clear that physical punishment for disobedience was to be left in the hands of YHWH. The underlying principle was the same, however - sin must be excised lest it should spread and infect others.

Ultimately, the Redeemed, both Jew and Gentile, are to be lights to the world - a testimony of the powerful hand of G-d moving in our lives. Living by G-d's commandments - the Law - is the way we are set apart from the world, the way we are shown to be holy. If we live exactly as the world lives, paying no attention to G-d's commandments (which, by the way, Yeshua never said to throw out or stop keeping), then how will our lives be a witness to anyone? The Law is what seperates the Redeemed from the Unredeemed - because it is life to the Redeemed, and death to the Unredeemed.

So please, anyone that questions whether or not we should follow Mosaic Law - keep in mind that you are already keeping portions of Mosaic Law. Why quarrel with people that have chosen to keep other portions of the Mosaic Law as well, if they do it from love for YHWH and a desire to learn more about Him? My mother celebrates the Jewish Holy Days* - I don't, but I have had the privilege of celebrating with her on occasion, and the Jewish Holy Days are amazing - they all point the way to Yeshua as the Messiah, and were doing so thousands of years before He appeared among us as a man. She doesn't celebrate these Holy Days to earn brownie points with G-d, or out of a sense of obligation - she celebrates these Holy Days joyously, because they have enriched her life and brought new light to the Scriptures for her, and for those around her. They have brought her into a much closer relationship with YHWH - and really, isn't that what each of the Redeemed seek? A closer relationship with YHWH?

If someone finds - as I have - that their relationship becomes stronger through a study of the Torah and the attempt to apply it, where possible, to one's own life, why judge them for that? I'm not doing it because I believe that it will give me salvation - I already have salvation. I'm doing it because I believe that it will make my relationship with YHWH expand, and that it will make my earthly life and my earthly relationships far better than they would be if I were to remain ignorant of the Torah.

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

I don't know about you, but I'm not good at knowing how to love G-d. I'm also not any good at knowing how to love other people. The Torah is an instruction manual for how we can learn to love G-d and love our neighbors. What point is there in muddling through when we have the instructions right in front of us?

*The Jewish Holy Days are not a celebration of Jewish heritage and history - they are a celebration of YHWH, made manifest through Jewish heritage and history. Each and every one of these holidays is centered around YHWH; the mighty works He has performed and the lovingkindness He has shown.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Israel is not cast away

Romans chapter 11
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

"Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE."

But what is the divine response to him? "I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL."

In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;

just as it is written,
"GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR,
EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT,
DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY."

And David says,
"LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP,
AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM.
"LET THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT,
AND BEND THEIR BACKS FOREVER."

I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.

Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!

But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,

if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,

do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."

Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith Do not be conceited, but fear;

for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;

and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
"THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION,
HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB."
"THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM,
WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;

for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience,

so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy.

For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?

Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monster,

The Apostle Paul answered every point of yours far better than I ever could. I would also recommend re-reading the parable of the Prodigal Son, which should also shed some light on the situation.

We have been granted an amazing gift - a share in the heritage of Israel. Just because most of the Jews have thrown away that heritage in their unbelief, does that mean that we should follow suit? What have become meaningless rituals to them are, to us, wonderful and life-filled tools of instruction that teach us about Father and give us greater insight into His heart and His works.

I do not know what is in your heart, Monster, but from the words you have written you seem to be very hardened and ungracious towards the Jews. I believe that you may want to spend some time in prayer and a further study of the scriptures in order to see if your beliefs and attitudes regarding this issue are indeed the ones that G-d would want His children to have.

I'm sorry if what I've said offends you - that is not my intention, any more than I believe it was your intention to offend me with your questions and comments regarding what I've said.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Old and New Covenants?

Earlier in the week, Heidi left a post about the importance of obedience to G-d. A lengthy discussion ensued. Reading through the comments, I found myself in the unpleasant position of disagreeing with one of my favorite people - Pablo. He states:

Unfortunately your example come from the Old Testament as opposed to the new. Different languages, different covenants.

and

No it does not. Read Hebrews. It makes it clear that the new covenant is superior to the old one.

I believe that Pablo is on the wrong track. Different language does not make different covenants. In fact - there is no old and new Covenant - there is only one Covenant in various stages of completion.

Okay, I'll use an illustration for this. (Not to sound like I'm talking down to anyone - especially Pablo, a Mensa member ;) - I do this for me, because it helps me formulate my thoughts.)

The Covenant is like a house - the 'Old Testament' is a description of the house's foundation being laid. The 'New Testament' is a description of the walls and roof being added. Obviously, a foundation with walls and a roof is superior to just the foundation - however, without the foundation, there would be no house. Nor does the finished house get to say to the foundation 'Away with you, I don't need you anymore', because the walls and the roof would be nearly useless without the foundation - and they certainly wouldn't stand for very long. Is this starting to sound familiar?

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

I was reminded of that passage just after I had chosen my house illustration. It certainly sheds new light on that parable for me! Isn't it funny how you can read something over and over and finally have that 'Ah-ha!' moment?

We should never ignore the Torah (Old Testament) or treat it as if it is inferior or outdated. It is our foundation, without which we will be swept away by the floods!



Monday, March 06, 2006

Thank you for your prayers

My husband has now graduated from the local police academy and will have his first night on the job tonight. He will have a one-year probation period. Thank you, everyone that prayed on our behalf. =) I really believe that your prayers helped put this in place for us.