19 Weeks Past the Cross (The Company I Keep)

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19 Weeks Past the Cross (The Company I Keep)
BY: TCLeach at
http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com

When I was teen, I hated when my parents trumpeted about me being judged by the company I kept. Who were they, I wondered, to decide with whom I could be friends? It just didn’t seem fair to me! I had to admit, though, that in high school, teachers were quick to include me in their lectures to the “trouble-makers” even though I stayed out of trouble myself. It was just easy for me to relate to the “lost kids” and it was with them that I spent most of my time. Brokenness attracts brokenness. As I stepped into adulthood (albeit a bit too soon) the truth of my parents’ words often floated through my mind. It wasn’t too many years later I found myself trumpeting the very same words to my own children. “You will be judged by the company you keep, choose friends wisely!” Unlike my parents, I did let my kids choose their friends, but they had to accept the consequences of their choices, too. But that will be their story to tell one day, I can only tell my own.

Without question, who my friends have been in my life has had some bearing on the decisions I have made, and on the direction I was walking. These days, I find myself walking in a new direction, leaving many great people behind me. It has been a decision that was not easy for me to make, but necessary for my own well-being. The Scriptural concept of walking in love made the decision even tougher. How can I walk in love with those who are walking further away from The Father instead of closer to Him? I found some things in Scripture to guide me as I make these kinds of decisions regarding with whom I will walk, and Scripture is what I will continue to lean on.

From Amos 3:
Will two walk together unless they agreed? גהֲיֵלְכוּ שְׁנַיִם יַחְדָּו בִּלְתִּי אִם נוֹעָדוּ:

In Deuteronomy 12, we are warned not to inquire about the gods of others, and clearly told not to adapt any of their ways of worship. And so it is now on me to decide what to do with all of the people in my life who are still practicing idolatry. How do I walk in love with those walking in the wrong direction? Certainly, these are friends I can no longer yoke myself to! So how do I love them now?

I know from personal experience that The Father will lead those whom He chooses out of the religion of idolatry, Christianity. This is something only He can do, by opening eyes and softening hearts and by granting revelation. Since the beginning of my journey, I have only been called to share my own story, not to rewrite someone else’s. When I stepped away from the cross, and from all things in the Christian Bible, I was so worried about the relationships I would loose…these were people I truly cared about! As you know, I was kind of surprised by who I did, indeed, loose. I won’t lie, a few of the losses really stung, but I’m still standing. I asked The Father to give me a specific sign regarding those who would or should stay in my life, so I could know they were His. He is so faithful, isn’t He? He answered my prayer in the same way He answered me when I was still walking in the Messianic faith, and seeing my friends walk away from it. He used the word “sister” then in His answer, and that is now how I have determined who I will “keep” and who to let go of. Those who call me “sister” have stayed on my friends list. Even with the “keepers” I am very cautious! I took them out of my newsfeed because I do not like being “assaulted” by posts about “the blood” or by posts giving praise, honor and glory to the one who is not THE ONE. I still look in on their pages, but take time in prayer before I do so that I can easily scroll past their posts glorifying another god, while still offering encouragement and hope pertaining to their lives and quest for truth. I am no longer walking “with” these people, but can still shine some of the One True God’s light on them.

When I get a new friend request, the first thing I always do is peruse the page of the person extending the invitation. If their posts, comments, likes and friends are all “on fire” for Jesus, I simply decline the new request. I did not (and do not) take the decision lightly! Trying to shine light, though, on someone who believes they are already in the light, seems like time I could use better elsewhere. I feel like such a snob when I hit that “ignore” icon! But why entagle myself with those entangled in the lies they inherited? I am on a quest to move forward, closer to The Father, not to be stalled on the Narrow Path! As always, my God has not left me without those with whom I can make a connection!  I also get new requests every day from those who are on the same “stretch of road” that I am on…stepping out of idolatry. My “cyber” social life has blossomed, and not diminished.

I am no better than anyone else, and I am no worse than anyone else! But I am learning to have standards as a child of the Almighty, and am learning to become set-apart from this world and those who worship its gods. I am an apt pupil of the art of irony, and do not miss the irony in my own journey! I began by being worried about who would walk away from me, and have arrived at the place where I’m the one questioning whether or not I want these Christians and Messianics in my life! Nothing makes me cringe more than one of them saying “I’ll be praying for you!” Please don’t! I don’t want any “blood” pled over MY life and I don’t want prayer that ends with “in Jesus’ name” instead of The Father’s. We know that sacrificing children is against God’s Torah, and I don’t believe He would have condoned the sacrifice of His own son. These are the prayers I can do without!

And so passes my 19th week without Jesus in my life, whom I called Yeshua. I look at everything now through this new lens, Scriptures, friends, and especially myself! Everything has changed, and although parts of this change have been difficult, I remember that I am being pruned by the Master Gardener. I am being refined by the Master Silversmith, who will seperate the dross from the precious “silver” in me. I am being molded by the Master Sculptor. None of these processes are comfortable for me, but I know that each of them is for my benefit, and for the glory of the One True God, Yehovah. And so I give myself willingly over to His works in me, so that I may see those works manifest through me!

All these years later, I can appreciate the wisdom my parents shared with me in its most complete form. I will be careful about who my friends are, mom and dad, I will! Not only for the purpose it serves in my own life, but for the purpose I will serve in this world and in the one to come. I am coming to understand that I can walk in love without walking in agreement, even when “love” means parting in shalom.

What have you learned in your walk about who to keep and who to let go of? What has it cost you? How have you grown because of it? Y’all know how much I enjoy picking your brains, gleaning from your wisdom and even learning from your mistakes! I hope you’ll give this subject serious thought, if not to share with me, at least to know where you stand and why. I’ll “see” you next week! Until then, please know that if your eyes have read these words, I am praying for you 🙂 Shalom

Christianity and Evil Spirits

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According to ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, abnormal behavior and disease was thought to be caused by evil spirits. We may find it amusing when we learn about this stuff in psychology schools. But when the same thing is endorsed by the Christian Bible, most Christian minds come to a standstill.

The idea that mental and physical health problems are caused by evil spirits may not be popular idea for majority of church-going people, but trust me, it is part of the doctrines of the New Testament. Whether one wants to see the fact or not, Jesus was an exorcist who practiced exorcism.

What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” – Anonymous demon, (Mark 1:24).

The New Testament presents Jesus as, among other things, “an exorcist par excellence.” I wonder why the gospel of John does not record any exorcisms. The author of John chose to use a selection of signs to enforce his teaching and he clearly felt that the exorcism stories will not achieve his purposes.” So let us therefore concentrate upon the so-called ‘synoptic gospels’ of Matthew, Maerk and Luke and other books where exorcism is mentioned.

Christians who oftentimes speak of the New Testament as factual data can be so divorced from worldview concerns as it is undeniable that they generally operate within their own subjective concepts.

When the majority cannot decide if the New Testament is an actual biography of Jesus and Paul, it becomes significantly clear that evangelists are more interested in selling Jesus as a product without being concerned of the ingredients that were used to spice up the Jesus character.

Matthew 10:1
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

It’ is a fact that many Bible believers believe that evangelists have the authority to cast out evil and unclean spirits.

Mark 16:17, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.”

Acts 16:18, “And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

Mark 9:38-39, “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw onecasting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.”

Evil spirits can enter into and possess people, causing all kinds of sicknesses, diseases, and terrible manifestations. The Bible records many occasions when Jesus healed those who were tormented by these spirits

See Matthew 8:28-34
Mark 1:23-27
Luke 9:37-42, and
Acts 19:13-16

When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick” (Matthew 8:16).

Demon possession is the control of an individual’s personality so that actions are influenced by an evil demonic spirit. The signs of demonic possession in the New Testament include:

deafness (Mark 9:25)
blindness (Matthew 12:22)
speechlessness (Matthew 9:33)
convulsions (Mark 1:26)
unusual strength (Mark 5:4)
suicidal attempts (Matthew 17:15) and
foaming of the mouth (Luke 9:39)

So if Christian believers are bringing their loved ones to the hospital, they are hypocrites and non-believers

Acts 19:12
so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

I wonder if all Christians will trust their evangelist to do all of the healing process for their Alzeimers, diabetes, high blood pressure etc. and stop relying on medicines?

Have a nice day!

Rise and Shine! On the Younger Generation

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Rise and Shine! On he Younger Generation
BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com

My aspiration has never been to work with kids, and my heart always goes out to those who do have the heart to do so. Teachers, foster caregivers, mentors…there are a plethora of people dedicated to the “raising” of children. There, wasn’t that an especially delicate way of admitting that kids aren’t my favorite people? I don’t hate them or anything, and I certainly have a bunch of them in my life that I love, but I’ve just never been drawn to the careers that center around children. That being said, children are drawn to me. My kids even used to get aggravated when they would find their guests in the living room chatting with me! I never knew what drew them to me, but when I began walking with God, I saw what a great position this put me in! I could use my easy connection to children to shine His light, and that has been my aim ever since. I will have an impact on each youth I meet, what kind of an impact will be up to me.

I understand that communicating with younger people doesn’t come naturally to some adults. Especially in these days, our youth can seem more like they are from another planet than the one we were raised on. The world is bent on teaching the young a different set of standards, morals and values than what we had. History gets rewritten for school books, and tolerance is taught at such a level that kids are beginning to think that anything is okay. Don’t despair! There are ways to connect with children, whether it’s a kid of your own, or just the youth in your community. Children are the future, and perhaps the most important people we can shine God’s light on! Whether the person is 3 or 17, they have the same basic need, to be heard and appreciated for their own thoughts and opinions, and to feel validated for having them. As in any area, before we go about shining God’s light, we first check our own connection to its source. Unless we are walking in light ourselves, we are casting shadows. Repent of anything that stands contrary to The Father in your life, and be full of His Word every day. Only then can you go about shining His light! When shining on the youth in your life, keep these helpful hints in mind: (note: I will use the term “child” for ease and continuity, but these tips apply to anyone under the age of “adulthood”)

  • Listen with your ears and eyes. Not feeling heard is a common complaint among children. When you listen quietly and with focus, a child is encouraged to share even more of their thoughts. Whether you are listening about the struggles with Leggos and match-box cars or the struggles of peer pressure, understand that to the child doing the talking, these are the most important issues in their lives at the moment.
  • Never tell a child they are wrong in what they think and feel. Instead, validate how they are feeling, and begin a new habit of helping them to always look at the many “sides” to any issue, including their feelings. Knowing there are many views to any issue helps a child to broaden their horizons, and strengthens their capability to experience empathy. Be sure, when it is applicable, to include what has been written in Scripture concerning any subject matter. Never do this in a condescending way, only in a positive way.
  • Check yourself for hypocrisy! Children, more than anyone, scrutinize us. They are always watching to see if our talk matches our walk. If we are saying one thing but doing another, they are quick to pick up on it, and it becomes harder for them to respect our thoughts and opinions, or to trust us. We can’t tell them not to lie, and then lie ourselves, even with little “white lies”. We can’t tell children to walk in love if we are walking around complaining about others, and insulting them or gossipping about them.
  • Admit your own mistakes and shortcomings. There is nothing worse to a child than an adult who claims to know it all. There is not an adult alive who doesn’t make mistakes! Talking about our struggles honestly makes us more approachable. A “know it all” attitude slams a door in the face of the one who is trying to connect with us. Of course we should share “age appropriately” with our audience. Get in touch with your own memories of being a child, and share according to those! A child needs to know that, as children, we faced many of the same issues they did. They were just “dressed” differently. Being honest about the issues and how they made us feel invites a child to listen to the solutions we found ourselves, and encourages them to find solutions, too.
  • Apologise when necessary. It’s not hard to find ourselves being short with a child. The stresses of the adult life can sometimes spill over onto our children, and that shouldn’t be. If you find you’ve been short, inattentive or even rude with a child, sit them down and offer your heart-felt apology. This also includes breaking promises, embarrassing them, or any other thing you discern was an offense in their eyes. Don’t follow it with a list of excuses, just be short, sweet, and very, very honest. Our sincerity is more accurately perceived by children than even other adults!
  • Ask questions. Nothing will make a child open up more than knowing you’re happy to hear more! Whether they’re 5 or 15, children are happy to talk about themselves and their lives when they know we are interested, and not standing by, ready to judge them. With teens, we tread a little more lightly, understanding that they value their privacy, and are still trying to find their own identity and place in this world. Don’t let your questions make them feel defensive, let your questions be an invitation for them to openly express their thoughts…even if they are different from yours.
  • Don’t be a “fault finder”. Children of any age desire approval. If you see an attempt being made at any project, find the good parts about it, and concentrate on those. Too often, as adults, our eye is trained on what remains to be done, and not on what has already been done. If a child vacuums, don’t point out that they forgot to move the coffee table, and don’t go behind them to redo what they’ve done. If they bring home a bad grade on a test, start with what they got right, and then ask them what they think went wrong. Don’t insult their style of dressing, or their taste in anything. Really, blue or green hair isn’t as bad as you think it is! There’s a tender heart under even the toughest exterior. Taste isn’t right or wrong, it’s just different for different people. Look past the mask a teen might wear to as they learn to express themselves. Don’t insult them. Set limits with them in regards to their friends, but do not insult those friends, either. When a child feels like you will criticize anything they bring to the table, they will stop bringing anything.
  • Demand respect. We must have clear boundaries in regards to being respected by children. We do not do them any favors by allowing them to disrespect us. Be transparent and concise about what is acceptable or not acceptable, and then be consistent. For instance, in my house, my grandchildren know that after 9 at night is grown-up time. They may still be awake because they are on summer break, but they know that it’s time for them to read, watch a little TV, or entertain themselves. I remind them of  how important they are to me, but that I do “clock-out” at 9.
  • Give respect. Once the adult boundaries are in place and in practice, it is important that children feel respected, too. Age appropriately, allow them to have boundaries, and clearly and purposefully respect them. Let a child know that you can be counted on, while still being clear that you will step over a boundary if they are in danger. As adults, sometimes we have to do just that, for their own good, but don’t make “stepping over the line” the norm! Respecting a child and letting them rule over us are two different things, it’s important that we know and exhibit the difference. Sometimes, respecting them means allowing them to make some mistakes, as well as face the consequences of those mistakes. If they do not learn how to solve some problems on their own (with only guidance and advice from you) they will have difficulties doing so in their adult lives. Let a child make a decision (when it is safe for them to do so) even if you know it’s the wrong decision. They will learn from their mistakes, just like we do.
  • Love outloud. Perhaps this is the most important one! Let the children in your life know how much they mean to you, and how much they mean to the future. Each one is valuable, with unique talents and gifts to offer this world. If there aren’t any children in your family, reach out to the ones in the community, and let them know they are important and valued. Too many children are hurting these days. Many are coming from a broken home, and many more are being raised by proxies instead of parents. If you look around, you will find a child who is in desperate need of God’s light. Be the one to shine it on them!!

Children might seem like they’re from another planet, but they’re not, they’re just a product of rapidly changing times. Like anyone, children have a need to feel heard and understood. Even though “understood” might be a difficult stretch for us, a child knows when we are making an honest attempt to see things from their perspective, and when we are not. When our mind is closed to anything they are trying to tell us, eventually, they will stop trying, and that is sad, indeed. Even the teens, who can seem difficult to connect with, have the desire to be heard and accepted. Reach out to a child, even if you don’t have any. Somewhere in your family or community, a child desperately wants to be heard…and loved!

The Truth about HELL

hell-and-sinner

https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies?fref=ts

By: William J Jackson

If we grabbed a bunch of strangers off the street and asked them “What do you know about Hell?” we would probably get some very different stories.  These stories would, however, share at least some similarities, like Hell is an underworld, it’s fiery, it’s eternal and even that it’s a punishment for the wicked. The Gallup Poll tells us that 70%1  of Americans believe in Hell.  If we asked these 70% where they get their ideas for Hell, many might say the bible. That being the answer, they would only be half right; because, only half of the Christian bible talks about Hell, and that half is the New Testament. The Torah/Tanakh (Old Testament), is silent on this topic.  So where did the New Testament form its views of Hell?  You might be surprised to know.

Hell is an Underworld (Luke 16:22-23, Acts 2:27, 2 Peter 2:4):

hell 2

In the Tanakh (Old Testament), the place we go after our physical death is Sheol.  This is an underworld and probably inspires the Christian idea of Hell.  Actually, in many Christian bible translations, like the KJV, Hell is a substitute for Sheol.  This is a problem because there is a distinct difference between the Tanakh’s Sheol and the Christian Hell. In the Christian version of Hell only those damned for sins are sent (Mark 9:43-44, Luke 16:22-24, Jude 1:7), to their fiery damnation, whereas; Sheol is the destination for all souls, both good (Psalm 16:10, 30:4, Isaiah 38:10) and bad (Numbers 16:33, Job 24:19, Psalm 9:17).  There’s a parable in the NT, titled “The Rich Man and Lazarus” and there they first introduce their audience to the conceptual idea of a Heaven and Hell contrast.  This parable is staged in the underworld of the dead, a “Christian Shoal” if you will, where only the evil go (Luke 16:22-23).  About this story, there has been a long standing argument in the Christian community about whether this was just a parable or an actual event spoken of by the Christian messiah.  After some research, it appears that this story was actually a blended tail taken from both Jewish and Egyptian folklore2 developed many years before “Jesus of Nazareth” allegedly told that. There’s also a Muslim version of this story, where Allah says to one of his Angel, “Tell the non-believers, I sent Messengers to you on earth. Why didn’t you believe in what they said? So now you will remain in Hell forever.”3 . Sadly, it took the contribution of several cultures to take this simple word “shoal” from its true meaning, to turn it into something that it’s not (an entire demonic world).

Hell is a place of Eternal Punishment for Sinners (Matthew. 23:29-33, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 7, 12-13, 2 Thessalonians 1:9):

Hell

In contrast and absolutely opposite of what the Tanakh teaches us, most ancient societies, such as the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and the Romans developed a concept of punishment for the wicked when they died, as a way to provoke them to be good when they’re alive. All these beliefs are close to the traditional view of endless punishment that the New Testament pushes. When trying to find a beginning for these concepts, we find that if Hell has a father, it is not Satan, but rather the Greek writer, Plato.  For it was he, who originally penned Hell as “a place from which these wicked sinners will never leave” 4.   Interestingly, in Islam, Hell is reserved only for the non-believer3.  That being said, Christianity conveniently counts non-believers as sinners (2 Thessalonians 1:8). I almost wonder if their eternal punishment of the wicked is more about their need to feel justice was served to those whose evil abounded.The Tanakh though, takes a very different approach.  It appears that instead of the wicked being punished, they are destroyed, perished and/or blotted out (Deuteronomy 8:19, Psalm 9:6, 37:20, 68:3,145:20, Proverbs 10:7, Malachi 4:3).

Hell is a Fiery Place (Matthew 13:40, 25:41, Luke 16:24, Jude 1:6-7, Hebrews 10:27, 2 Peter 3:7, Revelation 20:10):

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The Hellenistic Jews came up with a similar idea of a burning Hell from the concept of “Gehenna” This was a valley near Jerusalem. It means “the Valley of the sons of Hinnom.” This location and event was one of Judaism’s greatest abandonments of faith.  In Gehenna, about the seventh century BCE, some Jews passed their children through the fires in sacrifice to a foreign god (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 32:35). After these wicked proceedings ended, the location became regarded as ritually unclean (2 Kings 23:10), and they defiled it all the more by casting the bodies of criminals into its smoldering heaps 5.  Thus; this event is what helped bore the idea of Hell being an actual “place” that people go to and burn. As well; many people associate moral punishment from Hashem (Genesis 19:24, Psalms 11:6, Ezekiel 13:13, 38:22), as an eternal punishment, when in truth, there’s a big difference between a moral punishment versus an eternal punishment.

These ideas of a fiery Hell to burn in for eternity isn’t just from the Christians and the Hellenistic Jews, as the Muslims have capitalized off of it in their religion also.  Islam says that the least of their seven punishments of Hell is to walk around in fiery shoes.  This makes the non-believer feel like he is suffering the worst of the punishments. 3

Conclusion:

Centuries before the authors of the New Testament started to pen the Christian concepts of the afterlife, Hellenism permeated the Jewish nation. With this infusion of the Greeks ideas and philosophies into the Hebrew culture, we see Greek concepts imbedded in the New Testament. Adding to this, at the end of the 2nd century CE we also see Christianity blending Greek philosophy with their own theology 6.  I’ve heard some retort that this isn’t possible because the Gospels were written in the 1st Century CE; but the problem with this, is that we have no physical evidence of this, but what we do have evidence of, is that the oldest surviving manuscripts are newer than 200 CE.  In short, the Tanakh does not speak of a Christian Hell; but the Greek culture does.  If you read Ecclesiastes 9:2-6, you will find that the afterlife spoken of in the Tanakh is not the same place that New Testament messiah and his apostles spoke of.  It is possible that Christianity, with its exclusiveness and it’s threat of Hell, were just trying to create an environment conducive for proselytizing/evangelizing.

Now that we know where we “Don’t” go when we die, let’s dig into HaShem written word and see what He says about it all.
Next week we’ll find our answers to these questions in the the article:
“Sheol; Life After Death”
See you then.

References:

(1) By Albert L. Winseman, (May 25, 2004 ), Eternal Destinations: Americans Believe in Heaven, Hell, Religion and Social Trends

(2) Richard Bauckham, The fate of the dead: studies on the Jewish and Christian apocalypses (Netherlands: Brill, 1998), p. 101

(3) By Muhammad Ammar, 38 Hell, What Do Muslims Believe? Islamic Information Centre

(4) By George W. Sarris (Dec 2, 2011) Hell: Where Did It Come From . . . Really? Engaging the Culture

(5) Is hell literally a place of fire and brimstone? GotQuestions.org

(6) The Origin of Hell-Fire in Christian Teaching, Truth According to Scripture

(7) By Peter van Minnen, (December 12, 1995) Dating the Oldest New Testament Manuscripts

18 Weeks Past the Cross (A Quiz for You)

Praising - Copy - Copy - Copy - Copy

18 Weeks Past the Cross (A Quiz for You)
BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com

It seems as though all the rage is the little quizzes getting passed around on Facebook. Have you ever noticed that all the results are similar? They conclude that:

You are a sensitive soul, family is your priority.
You have a spirit of an eagle, always ready to fly high.
You are kind and generous, people often take advantage of you.
You like things orderly, you are a leader.

Funny, isn’t it, that we never see results like:

You really need to get it together.
Your personality is drab, no wonder you don’t have friends.
You will never accomplish anything.

Even funnier is that we are drawn to these things. We already know that whether we like peppers on our pizza or not, it doesn’t affect who we are in the realm of our spirit, yet we still take the quizzes. Have you ever wondered why they are appealing? Could it be that we are so deprived of a healthy self-image that we resort to accepting it from an inaccurate quiz, made by people who are only interested in circulating their own web domains? For curiosity’s sake, I have even taken the quizzes, giving all the worst possible answers, only to still receive a wonderful summary about who I am and how I tick. It’s not wrong to take a fun little quiz, but perhaps our time would be better spent on a quiz that has us take a real look at ourselves. A quiz that gives us a realistic look at our own state of affairs. A quiz that makes us come up with some honest answers about ourselves. One that has no right or wrong answers, just a mirror to gaze into. We might actually find some things out that we haven’t addressed yet…both good and bad. In my opinion, a healthy self-check quiz would look something  like this:

Do You Know Yourself?

1)   Name one childhood dream you have accomplished. ~If you can’t remember any of your childhood passions and dreams, you would greatly benefit from digging up the memories you have stowed away. We change a lot as we mature, but often, our initial hopes and aspirations are still within our hearts, and are drowned out in our thoughts by the static in this world. Get in touch with your own “little you” and find out what there is to explore!

2)   Name one dream you’ve had to let go of. ~Not every dream we’ve carried since we were small is going to come true. I had to let go of a huge one, the dream that someday I would meet a human being who would never hurt me or let me down. That human doesn’t exist, simply because humans are ALL flawed. I have sabotaged several good relationships because the other party didn’t live up to this unrealistic expectation I carried. Letting go of that dream still stings, but I can face reality and be honest with myself about it.

3)  What is one thing others don’t know about you? It’s okay to not tell everyone everything about yourself, in fact, it’s probably wise! But if you are constantly hiding aspects of yourself from even your closest friends, red flags should be waving in your vision. Examine the things you keep hidden honestly. What is your motivation behind keeping mum? Perhaps what you’re hiding has no good place in your life and needs to go. Perhaps what you hide should be shared, to encourage others that they are not alone. Maybe in exposing the hidden, you will find empowerment to make any needed changes. Remember, there is nothing more beautiful than an authentic “you”!

4)  Name one thing you are lying to yourself about today.  Don’t be shy, no one is going to see your answer but you! I’ll go first to break the ice. I lie to myself when I procrastinate. I tell myself as I’m setting something aside that I’ll “get to that” tomorrow…or maybe next week (for sure by then)!  Six months later I find whatever project it was, now insignificant or incomplete. To combat this lying to myself I’ve adopted the “why not now?” philosophy when the question of “when” pops up. Whether it be a phone call to make (why not now?) or some Scriptures I want to look up (why not now?) or a new eating plan (why not now?) or that dreaded exercise routine I know I need daily (why not now?). Even for an article I’ve been assigned that I know has a deadline, I have learned to ask myself “Why not now?” What is the lie you tell yourself? Can you come up with a way to shine the truth on that lie, and a way to counteract it? Act now! Life is short. There is no greater deception than deceiving yourself.

5)  Does your walk match your talk? Chew on this one for a moment. If it’s your belief that God is in control, are you calm in the face of adversity, or wringing your hands until they ache? Do you gossip? Make hateful posts about others, even if they are true? Do you bring supplies from work to use at home? If you will be brutally honest here with this question, you may glean some insight regarding the condition of your spiritual well-being!

6)  Are you clearing time to spend with God? “I don’t have time to read Scriptures or pray everyday!” is a LIE! The truth is, we make the time for the things that are most important to us. When we only give God a passing glance in our day, we will not receive the wholeness that can only be found in Him. This wholeness takes effort on our part. It takes time. Time spent in His Word and in one on one communication with Him, AKA prayer. If God really is the most important thing in your life, your schedule will revolve around a relationship with Him.

7)  Can people rely on a promise from you? Make sure that they can! There are two ways to approach this. (A) Purpose in your heart to honor every promise you make and then do it, or (B) Stop making promises before you’ve given the issue careful thought and consideration. Identify your boundaries and examine why you make promises you don’t keep. Being prepared ahead of time will prevent you from being caught off-guard. Master  the words “I promise” don’t let them master you! Integrity is a solid character trait, aspire to achieve it, always.

8)  What are you really good at?  It’s okay to know and admit to what you’re good at! Take some time with this one, and enjoy it! Can you list 50 things? 100? You just chuckled, didn’t you? I ain’t mad at ya, there are 100 things, I promise! We live in a society that makes money from those who have a poor self-image. Don’t think for a moment that advertisers haven’t figured out how to plant seeds of self-doubt. The truth is, everyone has room for improvement, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be comfortable in our own skin, right where we are now. Our successes can’t be compared to those of others. Our path is as unique as our skills, talents and destiny. So improve in areas you want to, but don’t fall prey to what others say you should be!

9)  What are your three best physical features? Take a solid look in the mirror. If you haven’t been altered by a plastic surgeon’s knife or an horrific episode that left scars, then the reflection shows how you were created to look. Knowing that The Creator makes no mistakes, how can you hate how you look? This was a big “Aha!” moment for me! I look like I was created to look! I have a nose that won’t look good with glasses perched on it, no matter what, shoulders that are “manly” (in my humble opinion) and a plethora of flaws that I’ll spare you from reading. But, you know what? At 50, I am finally at complete peace with how I look. If I don’t measure up to society’s standards for beauty, so what? I measure up to the One in whose image I am made. Since He has no form at all, I can know His  “image” is referring to the non-physical attributes I have. Those are what matter! Even beauty queens will succumb to their flesh aging until it dies. Find your own beauty in exactly how you look…it’s there, in everyone!

10) What is your greatest fear? What if it comes true? Sometimes that’s the best way to conquer fear, to look it square in the face. Most often, you are the one torturing yourself over that fear in the arena of your thought life. Like a wound that won’t heal if you continually rip the scab off, the fear you allow to monopolize your thoughts is never quelled. Examine your fear under the light of Scriptural truths, and take the steps necessary to conquer it. Your fear is killing you spiritually, and if your spirit isn’t healthy, it will affect your physical health, as well.

…..please wait while the results of your quiz are being calculated…..

Congratulations, Your test results indicate that you’re HUMAN! There is something that you do because you’ve wanted to do it since you were young, and there’s something that you won’t be able to do that you’ve always wanted to, and it breaks your heart. There’s something you keep to yourself for whatever reason you tell yourself. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll find there are areas where your walk does not match your talk, and your time alone with The Father isn’t as long as you’d like it to be. You have some wonderful qualities and talents, and a favorite aspect of your appearance. Spend some time getting to know yourself. Think about why you do what you do. Pay attention when you’re feeling ill or when your peace leaves you. These are warning signs that something is out of alignment, spiritually. The more you know about yourself and the more you are honest with yourself, the easier it will become to walk in the purpose for your life…to know and honor The Father and His Torah, and to walk in covenant with Him!

I hope you enjoyed the quiz. I took it as I wrote it, and learned a thing or two about my own self! Until next week, friends, be blessed and be excellent!

Paul of Tarsus against the Christian Messiah

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https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies?fref=ts

By: William J Jackson

Paul of Tarsus was a controversial figure in both the Jewish and Christian religions.  A Pharisee who recently changed teams, he went from hunting Christians (Acts 8:1-3) to being hunted as a Christian (Acts 9:22-25). Thus he wasn’t easily trusted at the beginning by his new team, the Christian rebels.   Fortunately for Paul there was Barnabas, a prominent Christian disciple (Acts 4:36, 11:22-24), who seems to have taken an interest in Paul, bringing him on a mission trip (Acts 11:25-26).  The duo returned after 2 years 1 to the Apostles to discuss their findings.  Here, at what would be later known as “The Council at Jerusalem”, Paul would make his debut with a “hot ticket” issue that would gain him notoriety and become a topic he would develop into a new theology throughout his legendary ministry.

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The Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15)

This was circumcision and its impact on one’s faith.  Paul and Barnabas did not want the requirement of circumcision to become an obstacle to the growing number of Gentile believers (Acts 15:1-2, 5).  James, the leader of the Church’s “Jewish wing” 2 , validates Paul by confirming that Gentiles should not have to be circumcised. James than turns around and issues a letter of conversion reducing the requirements down to only four items (Acts 15:29).  What also helped Paul’s cause was the voice of one of the Church’s strongest leader, Peter, who openly supported Paul’s rulings against circumcision (Acts 15:6-11). Paul would continue over the next 20 years to lean on the credentials of these famous Apostles who supported him that day (Galatians 2:2, 9).

About 6 years later in Paul ministry we see him communicating the same message to the Corinthians and the Galatians. However, instead of telling new believers that circumcision is an option, he tells them they should not become circumcised; 1 Corinthians 7:18 “…the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now…” and Galatians 5:6 “…there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised…”.  When we investigate we see that Paul is using circumcision as a representation for the Law of Moses.  His message is to not follow the Law of Moses but follow the Christian messiah in faith (Galatians 5:1-4, and 2 Corinthians 3:12-18). Eight years later, to the Philippians Paul takes it a step further.  Here instead of saying circumcision is unnecessary, he states that the new circumcision is believing in the Christian messiah (Philippians 3:3).  

If Paul stuck to his guns we might not believe him but at least we would know where he is coming from, yet he seems to flip the script when it comes to his own camp. Paul is double-dealer when it comes to his young protégé Timothy, who Paul encourages to become circumcised (Acts 16:3). Yet adding to Paul’s inconsistencies is another missionary named Titus who Paul celebrates for resisting the temptation of being circumcised (Galatians 2:3-5). So what gives?  Well the deference between these two men to Paul was that Titus was Greek (Galatians 2:3) and Timothy was part Jewish (Acts 16:1-2).  Is it possible that Paul viewed circumcision like something that was more cultural like wearing a kippa than performing a Commandment?  We need to evaluate Paul’s new faith at this point.  Above the circumcision issue Paul was perpetuating the Christian messiah.  So let’s refer to the corner stone of Paul’s faith, Jesus.  Jesus was not only circumcised Luke 2:21, he clarified that circumcision was a requirement from YHVH not Moses (John 7:22). Even in Jesus’ parable of “The Rich Man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31) he validates the Law of Moses had precedence over even his own alleged resurrection ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31).

So why was circumcision so important?  Circumcision was a requirement of Father Abraham and all generations to follow so that they would belong to Hashem’s covenant (Genesis 17:9-14), sometimes called the Abrahamic Covenant.  So what does this covenant promise?

1. I will make of thee a great nation (Genesis 12:2)

2. …I will bless thee (Genesis 12:2)

3. and make thy name great (Genesis 12:2)

4. …thou shalt be a blessing (Genesis 12:2)

5. I will bless them that bless thee (Genesis 12:3)

6. …and curse him that cursed thee (Genesis 12:3)

7. …and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)

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 Genesis 17:14 threatens that whatever male that does not become circumcised will have broken this covenant and be cut off (excuse the pun).  Heightening His law, over 600 years beyond this contractual obligation, YHVH ruled that an uncircumcised man couldn’t even participate in the honored Passover Meal (Exodus 12:48).  And about a year after that, in Leviticus 12:3, it was commanded all boys would be circumcised.  So we can easily see that circumcision is commanded by Hashem as part of the Law of Moses.  The same Law of Moses the Christian messiah professed to not change (Matthew 5:17-20 and Luke 16:17).

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Paul and Timothy

 As much as we can see the hypocrisy within Paul’s theology in contrast to the Christian religion, we see the shortcut mentality of the Council at Jerusalem in some of our modern day Jewish sects.  They considering (like Paul) that circumcision is not a requirement 3, 4, 5 .  In conclusion, we need to know Hashem’s word to gauge our faith walk, (Deuteronomy 18:20-22, Joshua 1:8,  Psalm 33:4, 119:105, 18, Job 23:12 ).  If a religion separates us from the word of Hashem, we should separate ourselves from that religion (Deuteronomy 4:2, 13:1-6, Joshua 1:7, Proverbs 30:6).

References:

(1) By Wayne Blank, Paul’s First Missionary Journey, Daily Bible Study

(2) If Peter had primacy, why did James make the decision on circumcision? (Acts 15), CatholicBridge.com

(3) By Rabbi Eugene Borowitz, Circumcision is a Choice, Jewish Circumcision Resource Center

(4) Jewish voices against circumcision getting stronger, Circinfo.org

(5) By Netta Ahituv, (Jun. 14, 2012), Even in Israel, more and more parents choose not to circumcise their sons, HAARETZ

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Week 17 Past the Cross (My Rose-Colored 3D Glasses)

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Week 17 Past the Cross (My Rose-Colored 3D Glasses)
BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com

My grandloves came home from the theater, each with a pair of 3D glasses. When the house got quiet that night, I sat looking at a pair, and The Father started “showing” me some things about those glasses, as well as the new lens I have been looking through. Don’t you just love it when He does that? The movie the kids saw can be enjoyed without the glasses, but those glasses “revealed” another dimension to the film that was already there, just not visible to the naked eye. HaShem showed me that once I traded in my Jesus glasses for Torah glasses, a whole new dimension of Scripture opened up for me, too. Not one word has changed in the ten years I’ve been reading, but I’m seeing so much more!

My Jesus glasses were blood red. They tainted everything I saw in the Sacred Writings! Like we see in the crime-dramas, blood leaves an almost permanent stain. I looked at forgiveness through a veil of blood, as well as sin. Heaven and “Hell”, my enemies, my relationships, everything was tinted crimson red. If Torah says the life is in the blood, and Jesus’ blood was allegedly shed, that’s death, not life. In tossing out those glasses, as well as all deadly Christian doctrines, I am choosing life. Throwing out those Jesus glasses left me with a magnifying lens, like the picture that adorns this very blog site. Now I’m ready for the glasses that I’ll wear all day long. They will represent the filter with which I will view the world, and The Father who created it. If you’ve ever been to an eye-glass store, you know I have plenty of options to choose from!

I’m going to pass on the “Me Glasses”. I wore those before I walked with my Creator, and saw the results of living for myself. The price I paid for living that life bankrupted me, financially, physically, and emotionally. I’m not interested in the “Right Glasses” either. People who wear them convinced me those were not the glasses I want! To go around thinking that I was always right, that my way was the only way, would make me look like them. They ride high horses, but quite frankly, high horses poop a lot. I’m going to walk past any “Bitter Glasses” I see. Bitter turns an otherwise lovely face ugly as soon as one slides them on. Bitter people miss living their life because all their focus is on the source of the bitterness. I’m 50. I don’t want to waste another moment of my life! The “Henny-Penny” glasses aren’t my style. Propagating conspiracy theories, spreading ill-will, and making stupid people famous are huge wastes of my time. The “Rabbinical Glasses” don’t quite fit me. I have the utmost respect for them, but I do believe those glasses are only for those whom HaShem has written a “prescription”.  Mayhap He’ll lead me there, and mayhap He won’t. But He hasn’t today.

The glasses I am putting on today are rose-colored. Unlike blood-red, the color associated with rage and danger, rose casts a pleasant tint. A rose tint is soft and gentle. Rose mellows the edges of harsh glares. Rose speaks of romance, of wonder, of awe. Rose is in the sunrise, and  covers the garden wall with dew-kissed blossoms. I crave beauty and shalom, both are colored in rose. Like a rose-tinted scarf around a lampshade changes the whole atomsphere in a room, my rose-colored glasses are changing the atmosphere for the things I look at. My Creator, Himself, made this glasses 3D for me. The three elements He created them with are Discernment, Dedication (to His Word) and Decisive Action according to that Word. These glasses have a lifetime (and beyond) guarantee that if they ever need adjustment, HaShem will will make those adjustments. I need only get quiet before Him and allow Him to correct my vision! What glasses will you wear?

“See” you next week, and until then, please know that you are in my prayers as you seek The Father yourself, and get fitted with glasses of your own. 👓