Thursday, December 23, 2010

Messianic Support Group

I am saddened by a recent event. While this event was expected, the force of the chilling blow from the event was unexpected. In this walk, usually referred to as a Messianic walk, I'm sure that I could start a "I'm keeping God's Feasts and my family thinks I'm nuts" support group. Of course one could insert "...and my family thinks I'm in a cult...or legalistic...or a little to religious...or totally misguided. The meetings would open like this..."Hello, my name is Sharon....I am messianic...I have been following the God appointed times for 9-10 years. I am working on step 4 of the program, which is communicating my convictions to my family about traditional Christian holidays (IE. Christmas) husband and I decided that we would not longer attend the family Christmas dinner on the 25th...we had been attending this dinner in recent years to accomodate the feelings of several family members...we felt lead to stop that...accomodating thing...well I guess we didn't fair so well...with my family that is...this is a hard step to work me Father to change the things I can change, accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference. That's all I have to say for now. I am claiming a kingdom reward on this one, because causing grief for those close to you is not a lot of fun.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Feast of Dedication

The Hebrew culture has celebrated the Feast of Dedication for many years now. It is knownmore commonly by it's Hebrew name Hanukkah, which means dedication. This winter feast celebrates the re-dedication of the temple after it was desecrated by the ancient Seleucid ruler Anticochus Epiphanes IV in 167 B.C.E.

In a nutshell, the bad guys against Yahweh, took over the temple, wreaked havoc profaningeverything: the good guys (the Maccabees) for Yahweh, fought back, won and had to clean up the mess left by the blasphemers. Since this time, the Jews have kept the Feast of Dedication, marking this dreadful ordeal.

Fast forward to the time of Jesus and we see that in the book of John, in the 10th chapter, Jesus walks through the temple during the Feast of Dedication. As Jesus dialogues with the Jews, the Jews get upset at his claim of being God and pick up stones to stone him with. So where did the stones in the temple come from? The temple keepers would hardly tolerate stones being left around the temple, so where did the rocks, big enough to stone a man, come from? Why were there stones in the temple?

It is quite possible and highly probable that the stones they picked up were the altar stones left from when the Maccabees rebuilt the temple. The altar stones were considered sacred yet they had seen the blood of an abominable pig. This left the Maccabees with a problem. The stones could not have been tossed aside as a mere common rock yet they could hardly be used for a sacred altar to Yahweh.Set aside but not discarded these desecrated rocks were left for years inside the temple in Solomon's Portico.

I'm sure the Maccabees never dreamed that during the Feast that celebrates the return to Yahweh's holiness, the mistreated holy stones of the first altar, would years later, be used to threaten the life of the long awaited Messiah.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In the Beginning Was the Word

I discovered that I love history, especially when history involves the Scriptures. Uncovering the Hebrew culture and lifestyle has given me a whole new perspective of what it means to follow in the foot steps of our Messiah, Jesus.

For example, in the book of John, he opens his gospel by saying, “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Did you know that in the Hebrew translation of the book of Genesis, in Genesis 1:1, where the bible begins, where the line reads very similarly to John’s gospel, there is a word that is not translatable? The “word” is really not a word at all, but two Hebrew letters, the Aleph a)) and the Tav t. The first and last letters of the Hebrew written language. The beginning and the end. Does this sound familiar?

Since the newest portion of the scriptures are translated from the Greek language, we are more familiar with the statement from the book of Revelation 22:13 that states “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” These terms Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek language and while accurately translated, their use can unknowingly bury a deeper meaning to the Lamb’s declaration in John’s vision and John’s gospel.

John knew his Hebrew scriptures and in his Gospel he used the book of Genesis to point out, to all who doubted, that indeed, Jesus (Yeshua) was there in the beginning. Jesus is the Word, the Aleph and the Tav, and He was with God in the beginning and He was God. Later when John writes of his “revelation” he records Jesus’ statement, again proving, that He is that Word and was there before the foundations of the earth were created. He is the beginning (the Aleph) and the end (the Tav).

Isn’t God so cool? He used letters and language to convey his meaning across the ages and pages!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Assumptions That Affect Our Lives

I'm reading a great book titled Assumptions That Affect Our Lives by Christian Overman. I'm taken with how far away we've travelled from our King's kingdom. Lured by others, by the sweet word that rots the bones. I was once asked what I thought rebellion was. Listening and accepting anything other that what our King has said. Entrapped by the beauty of lifeless words, our disloyal hearts can be so easily swayed into hypnotic death. Unearth my loyalty from the grave, and return my heart to the King. Direct me home; in 'the way' I should go. I do not want to patronize the assumptions that have affected my life. I want to go home. I want to stay home. Thanks for the small gifts of big books. When a boat goes off course only 2 miles from it's departure port, it's easy to correct the co-ordinates and re-direct the course. After 2000 miles of travelling toward the misplaced mark, the boat has travelled too far off course to recognize the surroundings. It is lost. It's best to go back and start over. Back to the beginning, back home to where we started.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Unleavened Bread

Today is the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Now what's left is the counting of the Omer until Shavuot aka Pentecost. Thanks Father for this week of non-leavened eating. It is always a practical reminder of your sinlessness. Probably good for my body too!
This is omer day number seven, just for a little bit of information.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Salvation or Obedience?

We just celebrated Passover this past week, in the midst of it really. Passover generally includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of the First Fruits, which is still 'on' right now. The last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, according to the lunar month is this Wednesday, making it another day off (High Sabbath). We had a wonderful dinner with a few family members and friends. I like the Passover Seder. It includes so many senses; sight, taste, smell, hearing. I like the purposefullness in the dinner. This year we used a very simple but Messiah centered Haggadah (booklet). It was interesting to hear the conversation after we were done, 'I've been a Christian all my life, brought up in the Church, and I've never done this before.' This person had missed a talk at their church about the Passover, but felt that this was much more educational than any 'talk' about Passover.

Some how the conversation moved into this Feast being a 'nice' thing to do but that it's not really necessary. I was dishing up dessert so I'm not sure how it transitioned from the meaningful (full of meaning) Passover meal to the "it's a nice gesture but we really don't have to do any of this".

It was one of my family members who was making sure this point was highlighted.



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Safe Sex Practises

Actually the heading this comes under in the Scriptures is titled "Laws Concerning Sexual Immorality" so I'm not wrong in labelling this Safe Sex Practises. It's found in Deuteronomy 22. While most influences on children today and while I was growing up, want to teach that safe sex means that one should not have unprotected sex, it may have had more of an impact on my life if I had heard a different message, one geared very similarily to Deuteronomy 22.

Can you imagine sex education classes teaching straight from the Scriptures?
Or can you imagine influencing our church youth leaders to teach this same message? Perhaps we could adopt this standard into our marriage prep classes offer in our churches?

Imagine telling a young couple during their visit to the marriage encounter group "Bob, if you plan on marrying Betsy, make sure your not marrying her for her looks only and don't end up hating her. If you accuse her later of misconduct, claiming she's not a virgin and her parents prove that she is, we'll have to stone you." I'd hate to be the girl who is unjustly accused and then have to stay married to someone jerkish enough to accuse her of unvirginal behaviour. The implications of this particular scenerio seems terrible, and yet if I look closer to what it's saying then I can see how loving our Father is to have given us all these instructions and consequences for not keeping them.

If I take the section as a whole, I can see that Yahweh is saying that He really wants us understand the physical connections that occur in sexual communion.
He's saying don't take this lightly, everyone. Don't marry a girl for her looks, and because you can't wait to have sex with her, only to find out after you don't like her. Then by trying to get rid of her the only way plausible, accusing her of cheating, you can move on with your life. Yahweh is saying that it's going to be a lot harder to do. Slow down and think about who your marrying. Is it possible this girl is not a virgin? What's her family like? Stop letting your hormones decide who your going to marry.

I can only imagine what my life would have been like if I'd been told that when you have sex with someone it means you're as good as married. That's the weight it carried with it.

Assuming of course our society had any morals, and we taught it to all kids that way, would we see the same amount of sexual permiscuity that we see today? I have four boys in my house and we are just entering into the hormone stage. We are going to study this passage together. I mean really. If young men knew that if they had sex with their girlfriends it means that they are to pay the girl's father money (a price for the bride) and then keep the girl as his wife FOREVER. That's assuming the boy is still alive after the father finds out. This passage tells me that the girls were to be virginal at the time of marriage, because the blood cloak was a sign of the consumated marriage covenant. (See Below) I'm thinking boys too, but its the blood from the girls that seals the deal. I'm thinking parents would be a whole lot more involved in the people their children hang out with.

I'm not saying we should stone people anymore, however if we still thought and acted as though it was a possibility, perhaps our young men would consider curbing their sexual activity, rather than satisfying it.

**Blood Cloak- It is my understanding that a part of the marriage ceremony was that the bridegroom would take the bride into the bridal chambers, and while the celebrating wedding attendees, including moms and dads, waited outside, the newly married couple consumated their marriage inside. After the deal was sealed, to put it simply, the blanket/cloak that lay underneath the couple was taken and given to the bride's parents. This was her family's security that she, indeed, had been what the father of the bride had promised.

As a side note, it's interesting how covenants are made by the shedding of blood.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Call the Sabbath a Delight

"If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." Isaiah 58:13-14

There needs no further explaination as to how we are spend HIS Sabbath. Since moving our day of worship from Sunday to HIS day of worship, Saturday, over 5 years ago, our family can honestly say that the Sabbath is a delight. We look forward to the sun's departure, it's bedtime, so that we can begin to cease from our labours. Usually Friday is our Sabbath chore day where we clean house. The boys have their chores and I have mine. By the time Dad comes in, he's already been to the store to pick up Sabbath treats. That's his way of setting Sabbath apart for the kids. The youngest has been known to ask "Is today Sabbath?" thinking ahead as to what his treat might be. If the day he asks on is not Sabbath, he'll follow up with the question "Well, when is Sabbath, then?".

Usually, our evening is marked by a dinner that begins with a prayer, Sabbath bread, and Sabbath wine/juice. We try to slow this dinner time down as we really don't have anywhere to go. My husband usually makes us speak about one or two things that we are thankful for in the past week. Sometimes, probably not often enough, we have friends over. Once the dinner is over, everyone helps clean up. At this time we move to the living room, where we spend sometime reading Scripture and pray about any concerns.

This evening is our movie night, and now as I type I'm thinking that perhaps we are seeking our own pleasure. I'm being honest, this is what we do. I'll have to talk to my husband about this. Anyhow, borrowing a movie from the library is best because they're free.

This is our junk food night. Although we try to find healthy alternatives, it's not as much fun as pop and chips/popcorn.
Bed times are relaxed and we seem to go to bed when we're tired, knowing that Sabbath morning means sleeping in. I usually make a point to turn off any alarms that may rudely want to wake us. Our Father rested, and we want to rest too.

By the time we're all awake and have had breakfast, and the dogs have been walked, I'm pretty much ready for my late morning nap. AHHH I love Sabbath.

After lunch, usually made by my husband, to give me a rest, we all take up our instruments and spend some time worshipping our Creator, our King. Everyone has a favorite song, and sometimes we've even come up with our own, on the spot.

Once we've finished singing and playing, we gather together in the living room to take turns reading from the Scriptures. It's usually a stop and go reading because we encourage the children to ask any questions as they have them.

By this time it's late afternoon and guess what! Time for another nap. What a delight this Sabbath! After a late nap it's just time for more rest.

We've tried to maintain a shopping free/ working free day and unless the kids are sick and in need of medication, we rarely buy or sell anything on the Sabbath. There have been days that we've participated in something outside our usual routine, but we've always have felt disappointed with the feeling of not trying to keep the Sabbath holy (set apart).

We have experienced an interesting phenomenon since moving to the seventh day. Resting on the day blessed by the Father ( see Genesis), gives you more energy to work for the upcoming week. When Sunday morning rolls along, we are ready for "work". It's a strange occurance and I don't have an explaination for it, but it's like there is more time for the rest of the week.

There really is a blessing on the Seventh Day.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Our God is a Jealous God

I've had a few conversations with my mother on the topic of prophets and dreamers. Because my mother is a dreamer of dreams that come true, she's often wondered how her gift relates to our faith in Yahweh, in comparison to those outside of the faith, who practise fortune telling and the likes. As well, her experience with the occult prior to coming to know Yeshua (Jesus), has caused her to shy away from using this gift that the Father has given her.
In our conversations we've come to the conclusion that when God gives out gifts he gives them to everyone, so if a person is not following God they still have their gifts, only they are using them for the wrong side of the team, so to speak.

I came across an interesting passage in Deuteronomy 13:that has given me another possibility with regard to this topic. This is what it says " If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him."

The rest of the chapter continues on to warn those who love God to purge out the evil, not letting anyone lead you away from His commandments. What makes this interesting is that one of the ways God tells us to judge whether a prophet's "word" is from Him is by what comes true of his prophecy. This is explained in Deuteronomy 18: 9-22. So our loving Father will actually allow a accurate prophets/dreamers into our lives, with the idea of testing our hearts. He wants to see if we will be won over by their words, setting aside what He's told us. Will they lead us away to worship idols and other gods?
The two "witnesses" for us to judge whether or not some prophet is reliable are: 1. What they say must come true?
2. They must not entice us to go after other gods.

Basing our judgement on this criteria we can use the Word of God to assess whether someone is legitimately speaking on Yahweh's behalf or not.
Thanks Father for your Word.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The "Law" on our hearts

I used to think that the phrase pertaining to the Law "written on our hearts" was a "new" covenant phenomenon. I have come to know that this is way of thinking is misleading and is not consistent with Scripture. In reading Deuteronomy, I've found it very clear that the "law" was always meant to be on our hearts. Yet so far I've only noted Deuteronomy I will continue looking through the rest of the Scripture to find more references. I am amazed to read many times that those who were saved by Yahweh's arm of salvation, were told through Moses to take to heart the instructions given to them. They were to "take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children--" (Deut 4:9)

I'm planning to stickie note my Scriptures every time I read about Yahweh's special instructions for our hearts. I wonder if it will be mentioned more in the Old than the New. Hmm... just wondering.