Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who Forgives Our Iniquities, and Heals Our Diseases?

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalm 103:2-5

I was thinking about these verses yesterday (largely because I was singing a song that contains this passage), and As I was singing the words, a situation in the life of Yeshua came to mind. There is an interesting narrative in Luke's gospel, chapter 5. In it we read the following:

 "On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he said to the man who was paralyzed--"I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home."And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen extraordinary things today." Luke 5:17-26.

I find it interesting that when the man is brought before Yeshua, his need is quite obvious - yet Yeshua's first words to him are "your sins are forgiven." Now, I think many of us have heard sermons regarding this passage, and the fact that the man's greater need was forgiveness, and thus, Yeshua addresses his greater need first. We've heard as well that this was a demonstration of Yeshua before the Pharisees present that He was, in fact, the Messiah, with the authority of YHVH behind Him. And I believe both of those are reasonable, good explanations for Yeshua's response to Him to first grant forgiveness of sins to the paralyzed man, and then healing him after afterward. But I wonder if there was another, deeper intent as well.

The Psalm that I began with, Psalm 103, verses 2 through 5 say to bless the LORD (literally, bless YHVH), who forgives all of our iniquities, and heals all our diseases. Notice the order - 1) YHVH forgives our iniquities and, 2) heals our diseases. And who does this? The LORD (Yahweh) does! Is it possible that Yeshua was demonstrating that He was/is Yahweh in the flesh?

Perhaps. Just thought I'd share yesterdays musings.

From "The Garden Of The King' Blog

A post worth reading.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some Thoughts About The Resurrection

So, as we looked at Acts chapter 20, and specifically at verses 7 & 8 in my previous post, this time I want to look at a related issue because I think that major elements that would and could help us understand the events of Yeshua, and the Apostles lives in the gospels and in the book of Acts have been missing in classical, normative Christian teaching. Long ago the understanding of the biblical calendar (found in Ex. 34; Lev. 23; Num. 28-29; and Deut. 16) was lost to the majority of those that go under the banner of "Christian" ("Christian" is a word that many groups, sects, and denominations have gone under, though the beliefs and practices of said groups have varied dramatically n many cases, and has done so for nearly two-thousand years).

A question I have come to ask myself often is this: "If the biblical feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, etc. were and are pictures ("shadows") of the Messiah, then why do the believers and followers of Messiah no longer observe, practice, and learn about those festivals?" Let me expand upon this. Why is it that those that believe in the One to whom these feasts picture and point to (Jesus/Yeshua) do not celebrate these feasts, but the people that largely reject Jesus/Yeshua as the Messiah, celebrate the very feasts that Christians say are a picture of Him?!

I understand the arguments (reasons given) for this. probably the most notable and prominent argument comes from Colossians ch.2, v.v.13-17 (though there are other arguments proffered as well) where we read the following: " And you--being dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh--He made alive together with him, having forgiven you all the trespasses, having blotted out the handwriting in the ordinances that is against us, that was contrary to us, and he hath taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the authorities, he made a shew of them openly--having triumphed over them in it. Let no one, then, judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths, which are a shadow of the coming things, and the body is of the Christ." - YLT

We are told that the Sabbath, New Moons, and Feasts were and are only "shadows" and therefore we no longer need to set our eyes on them, but rather, we should set our eyes upon Jesus, because He is the reality of those Feasts and appointed times (for a more in-depth treatment of this, please see my previous posts "It's Time To Start Understanding The Bible...Biblically!" and "Another Thought On Shadows..." - I recommend that you go back and read these if you have not already, or if it has been a while and therefore may not have the arguments fresh in your mind). And I agree, Jesus IS the reality - which makes it all the more perplexing to me as to why we no longer celebrate the very times and feasts that picture/foreshadow Him! After all, Christians celebrate Christmas today in commemoration of His birth? They celebrate Easter in commemoration of His resurrection. Were not His birth, death, and resurrection foretold and foreshadowed in the Tenakh (O.T.)?! So, would not today's celebrations of those events be merely "shadows." Those same three events - absolutely central to Christian faith and belief, were and are shown in already existing biblical festivals/feasts - the feast of Tabernacles ("...and the word became flesh and dwelt - literally, 'tabernacled' - among us" - John 1:14), Passover/Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits ("But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept...But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." - 1 Cor. 15:20,23) respectively.

So, if the biblical feasts are no longer observed in commemoration of the One to whom they pointed because they are simply "shadows", then why do Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter? In other words, the question could be asked "is Christmas and Easter a shadow/commemoration, or the reality"? And the obvious answer is that they are not the reality (because Jesus is the reality). Does it not seem that we have rejected one set of shadows, feasts and celebrations for another? And the most perplexing thing about it is this: the biblical feasts of Tabernacles (Sukkot), Passover, and Firstfruits were and are given to us by God Himself, and inherently contain the meaning within them. But where are Christmas and Easter in the bible? And why do we hear on the radio every year at Christmas time the exhortation to "keep Jesus as the reason for the season" and "let's put Christ back into Christmas." Do we ever hear at Passover time "Let's keep YHVH as the reason for the season" or Let's put the red-sea crossing back into Passover?" The themes of the biblical feasts are inherent in them, because God Himself gave them and embedded them with their meaning. Are the themes that are today ascribed to Christmas and Easter inherent in them? If your answer is yes, then I would simply ask this - if they are not in the bible, then from whom and by whom do they derive their meaning? And, does anyone else share these festive seasons (like non-believers, and even those that worship in the ancient, Pagan ways, like Wiccans for example)?

When Yeshua rose from the dead on the third day (which was indeed "Sunday" - no doubt about it) after Passover, was it the fact that the day was Sunday that made it special? Or, does the fact that the resurrection happened on Sunday, now make Sunday special? I would like to offer an answer to both of those questions - and that answer is no. What made the day of the resurrection special was, first and foremost, the resurrection of course! But the significance of it goes deeper.

Never, never did Yeshua, in speaking beforehand of His death and resurrection (cf. Matt.16;21; 17:23; Mark 9:31; Luke 18:33 for just a couple of examples), say that He was going to rise from the grave on "Sunday." And why not? I believe that it is because the day of the week was not an important factor. The fact that it was to occur on the third day was and is the important factor. But why is that so?

When one reads the Tenakh, one quickly begins to see that recurring numbers appear time and again. And when one delves deeper into that fact, one begins to see that patterns, or better yet, themes begin to emerge. If one were to follow the "theme" of the number three, one begins to see that it is almost always associated with death/resurrection (or, an allusion to the same). For example, Yeshua Himself gives the narrative of Jonah; specifically, the fact that that he was in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights as an allusion to His death and resurrection. So, Yeshua shows us the allusion within the narrative of Jonah of Messiah's death, burial, and resurrection within three days.

In the context of the biblical feasts, is there any significance in any of them concerning three days? Yes, there is. The biblical feast of "Firstfruits" just happens to occur on the third day after Passover! On that day, the High Priest was to take the "firstfruits" of the harvest, and wave them before the LORD (cf. Lev. 23:10,11 for example).Yeshua spoke of a "corn of wheat" going into the earth, and then springing forth from the ground bearing much fruit (cf. John 12:24). Pastors and Teachers know that He was making a reference to Himself - how He would go into the earth only to spring forth from it once again in resurrection, bearing much fruit ("much fruit" - meaning - many others who, through trust in Him, would one day go into the earth only to "spring forth" again at the resurrection). And as I quoted above, Paul related Yeshua's resurrection to the feast of Firstfruits when he called Messiah the "firstfruits" of them that "sleep" (ie. those that have died) in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

So, was the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday a biblically foretold and foreshadowed event? Was the fact that He rose from the grave on Sunday the important element (and in reality, most likely sometime during the night - either late, late Saturday night, or early in the morning on Sunday - either way, while it was still dark, as can be seen from reading the resurrection portions of the gospels), or was it the fact that He rose from the grave three days after Passover, which would be on the Feast of Firstfruits, that made it significant?

Years ago, Evangelist Ray Comfort gave a teaching (the title of which I forget now) wherein he used 1 Sam. 11 in his teaching, where Nahash the Ammonite came up against the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead. The men of Jabesh asked Nahash to make a covenant with them (no doubt to try to spare their lives), to which Nahash agreed - with one stipulation - that they all thrust out their right eyes! Without their right eyes, they would be greatly weakened if they ever sought to fight back. Ray used it as an illustration of how the enemy seeks to weaken Christians in their evangelistic endeavors. For our purposes, I would also like to use this narrative as an illustration (for full context, please read 1 Sam. chapter 11). When a crime is committed, one of the first things that Police search for are "eyewitnesses." And one important element in being an eyewitness is, of course, having eyes. An eyewitness reports what he/she saw, primarily, and in the reporting of what they "saw", they become a "witness."

The Hebrew word for "witness" is 'ad' or 'ed' (of course, that is the English transliteration). The Hebrew word that is used for the biblical feasts is "mo'ed" (or, "mo'edim" in the plural). Notice that the Hebrew word for "witness" ('ed') is embedded in the word "mo'ed." In other words, the festivals of the LORD could be interpreted to be His "witnesses!" And of course, we know that they do indeed "witness" of Messiah, as many Pastors would attest. Could it be that the enemy has convinced the Christian Church (much like Nahash sought to do with the men of Jabesh) to pluck out their right eye, which would impair their "vision" which in turn would impair their "witness?" I find it interesting to note that the word 'ed' ("witness") is spelled with the Hebrew letters 'ayin' and 'daleth.' The letter "ayin" is represented by an "eye", and in fact, the Hebrew word for "eye" is "ayin!" Furthermore, Hebrew is written and read from right to left. So, the right letter of the word 'ed' is the "ayin" (the "eye")!!! To remove the letter "ayin" from the word 'ed' is to render it no longer a "witness" (becasue it word no longer be a word).

When the Church cast off the feasts of the LORD looooong ago, did it in effect pluck out it's right eye, by casting off the "mo'edim?"

Why does the Church fight so hard every year for Christmas? I believe it is because Christians feel that the birth of Messiah is very important...and indeed, it is! I think that Christians want to preserve what they perceive as the celebration of His birth...and rightly so. But most Christians know that December 25 is most likely not His actual birth date. Furthermore, I think many Christians hold Easter in even higher regard, because of the resurrection...and again, His resurrection is foundational to our faith. But do you know that Easter never actually coincides with Passover? In fact, some years, Easter occurs before Passover. How is it that we celebrate the resurrection at a time that never coincides with the actual time that we know He died and rose again?!? Let me repeat that last part - we know when He died and rose again! We still celebrate His resurrection today - shouldn't we celebrate it at the actual time that it happened? Wouldn't that make sense?

The great significance regarding the time, or day that Yeshua rose from the dead is not in that it was Sunday - it was the fact that it occurred on the third day after Passover - exactly on the feast of Firstfruits. If we are still celebrating that momentous event today (the resurrection), wouldn't it make sense to do it during the time that it actually happened? I mean, should we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence (as Americans) on June 12th? Or July 6th even?

I hope that in this post I have given readers some food for thought. My first passion (after Yeshua Himself, as HE is my Savior) is the word of God. I desire to learn it, grow in it, and direct my life (and family) by it. And I desire to share that with others. My number one message has been for the last few years now the following: Read your bible daily. Do what it says. And, as Paul said to the Thessalonians - "test all things; hold fast that which is good." I invite you to do the same. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Different Way To View It...

Every morning (well, most mornings) I get my older children up to do a short bible reading together before I have to go to work. Lately we have been going through the book of Acts. The other morning we started chapter 20, and made it through to vs.12. One of the issues we discussed is found in vs.'s 7-8, where we read that the disciples came together "...on the first [day] of the week...to break bread...." We read that Paul spoke to the group "until midnight", and that there were "many lamps" in the room where they were meeting. I think that vs.8 is actually there in order to give the possible reason for the subsequent accident of Eutychus, who fell from the window ledge that he was sitting in. The fumes from all of the lamps would have vented out of the window where he was sitting, and probably added greatly to his drowsiness. But I digress - this is not really the point I want to make!

This passage has been (and still is) used by Pastors and bible teachers to demonstrate what they believe to be the beginnings of the practice of the Church to meet on Sundays, as opposed to the Sabbath ("Saturday") that had previously been kept by the disciples, and of having "communion" together at the Sunday gathering. And, from the reading of the verses (at first glance), that seems to be a reasonable assumption. But I do not think that this interpretation is correct. I believe that this understanding is flawed, mostly due to a misunderstanding of common practices, both then, and now that the passage alludes to. Furthermore, I believe it is an important issue to look at, because one of the major debates that has revolved within Christianity for two millenia is the Sabbath/Sunday issue. So, let's take a look at it, shall we?

First, I would like to note that Luke (who wrote the book of Acts), all throughout the book, uses a chronology based upon a Hebrew time schedule. He frames events around the biblical feast days throughout the entire book (cf. vs.'s 6 and 16, just for two examples of many that could be shown). This is a very important point, because apologists such as Matt Slick of CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) seeks to argue that Luke was using Roman time keeping in his chronology of events. Here is a quote from an article that can be found here on CARM's website: "The first day of the week is Sunday and this is the day the people gathered. This passage can easily be seen as the church meeting on Sunday. It has two important church functions within it: breaking bread (communion) and a message (preaching). Additionally, Luke did not use the Jewish system of counting days: sundown to sundown. He used the Roman system: midnight to midnight. This is a subtle point that shows the Jewish Sabbath system was not the one utilized by Luke." This point is easily refuted, however, with a simple look in the O.T. (Tenakh). See, for example, Ex. 11:4; Jdg. 16:3; Ps. 119:62 for a sampling of verses in the O.T. that use the time frame of "midnight." So, the fact that Paul preached until "midnight" does not in any way demonstrate that Luke was using a Roman "clock", as opposed to a Hebrew one. And, as I've already pointed out, the book of Acts uses the Hebrew (biblical) calendar as a frame of reference for the happenings that he records therein.

So, having established that, let's now look at the next issue - that it was the "first [day] of the week" that the disciples gathered. What is missing here in our text? Well, nowhere do we read of any sort of establishing of a change in the day that the disciples gathered together. In Acts chapter 2, we read that they gathered together daily, going from house to house. This does not mean, however, that they no longer congregated together on the Sabbath - to wit - we see that Paul continually entered the synagogues on the Sabbath. Furthermore, if the disciples had truly broken away at this point in order to gather together on another day of the week, in lieu of gathering on the Sabbath, I would think that it would have been mentioned explicitly - after all, Luke just mentioned a seemingly insignificant detail in the chapter and verses under scrutiny (Acts 20:7,8 if you forgot) such as the fact that there were "many lamps" (cf. vs. 8) where they were gathered together. Why would Luke feel it important to include such a mundane fact, but never record any clear cut change in which the disciples no longer gathered on the Sabbath, and instead, did so on Sunday? Seems odd to me. At any rate, Luke does mention that it was the "first [day] of the week" when this gathering occurred. So, what is he telling us with this bit of information? Well, first, notice that I keep putting the word "day" in [brackets] - this is because in the KJV, the word "day" is in italics, which is there to let the reader know that the word "day" is not actually there in the Greek manuscripts. Now, that does not mean that it is not implied in the Greek, and that may very well be. It really is not a major point in my case, because I can still utilize it if it indeed is implied. However, the "Sunday gathering" interpretation definitely needs it in order to make it's case. But there are a couple of important pieces of information that need to be brought into our study here, in order to gain a better understanding of what is going on.

It was most likely common then, and it certainly is now, for Jewish people to have a celebratory meal/gathering at the close of the Sabbath, after sundown (which technically, according to the Hebrew reckoning of time, would be “Sunday”, or the first day of the week), today called “havdalah” (which means “separation”). It is the common way that Jewish families end their Sabbath – by having a special meal – often with friends or other family – and closing out the Sabbath together. Notice that in our passage, the disciples come together to “break bread” on the (literally) “first of the week” (which does not necessarily have any connotation to it other than “having a meal” - in fact - “breaking bread” is an idiom found within many extra-biblical Jewish texts, and it simply means to “share a meal”. The phrase”break bread” did not take on a ceremonial, religious connotation in Christianity until post biblical times. During the times of the Apostles and disciples of Jesus, it had nothing to do with a “communion” service. Perhaps I will cover this issue in a future post). Notice also that this gathering is at night, as we are told that there were many “lamps” burning.

Furthermore, Paul teaches the disciples until midnight. It seems to me that it is more likely that Paul gave a 2-4 hour teaching, as opposed to, say, a 12 hour teaching (if we were to start the count from 12 noon, for example)! The possibility that this was similar to (if not actually) a “havdalah” service is more than likely, I believe, than a Sunday Church service, a service which does not seem to find any direct reference in the N.T. writings. But, I think there is another possibility that finds itself a likely candidate in light of many surrounding and supporting scriptures within the book of Acts, and this we shall examine now...

The word that is translated "week" in Acts 20:7 is the Greek word "sabbaton" which can mean: a "week"; a "sabbath", or, "sabbaths". Could it be that when Luke recorded that the disciples came together, he was letting us know that they came together on the "first" of the "Sabbaths" (or, "weeks"), referring to the first sabbath of seven in what is called "the counting of the omer."

In verse 6 of Acts chapter 20, we read that Paul and Luke (and perhaps a few other companions) sailed away from Philipi “...after the days of unleavened bread...” and came to Troas. This little pinpoint of time is very important. According to Lev. 23, there is a 7 day “feast” called the “feast of unleavened bread” that immediately follows Passover (Passover is actually an evening meal, occurring on the eve of the 14th of the Month of Aviv – modern day Nissan). Additionally, after the Passover, there comes a 50 day count - the "counting of the omer" - which culminates in the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). For that 50 day count, Lev. 23 instructs us to count "seven sabbaths" (which comes 49 days), wherein on the 5oth day, the feast of Shavuot/Pentecost is celebrated.

If we go back and look at verse 6, we see that after "the days of unleavened bread", they sailed to Troas, which took them 5 days - just under a week. The very next verse says that they came together on the "first" of the "sabbaton." The time frame fits very well with the idea that after they arrived in Troas they had a day or two before the first Sabbath of the seven that lead up to Shavuot/Pentecost, and therefore, they gathered together for the first Sabbath of the counting of the omer! Verse 16 tells us that Paul was hastening on his journey because he wanted to try to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost. So, taking verses 6 and 16 into account, we see that Luke is framing these events in a Hebrew/Jewish, not Roman, time frame - the biblical calendar.

So, in summary, we covered the following facts: 1) There is no clear cut, definitive verse in the NT that shows a switch from observing the Sabbath to a Sunday Church service. 2) The gathering of the disciples on the "first of the week" to "break bread" in Acts 20:7,8 fits better into a framework of either a Saturday evening "havdalah" gathering, or, even likelier, a gathering to celebrate the first of the seven Sabbaths leading up to Shavuot/Pentecost. This scenario is likely because of the framing events of this meeting - that being the end of the feast of unleavened bread just about a week before this gathering, and the desire of Paul to try to get to Jerusalem in time for Shavuot/Pentecost, arriving approx. 6 weeks after the gathering of Acts 20:7.

For the sake of length (since this is supposed to be a blog post, not a theological treatise!), perhaps I will seek to examine this further in a future post, examining the issue of the breaking of bread in more detail. But for now, I hope that I gave sufficient evidence to demonstrate that, perhaps, the Church has been off a bit in it's interpretation of this text, and the purpose of the gathering of the disciples here. May your own study be blessed and fruitful as you seek to gain in wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and the grace of Yeshua our great and beloved Savior!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are You A Bridge, Or A Wall?

That might seem to you an odd question. But I was reflecting upon this issue yesterday morning on my way in to work. Of course, I am speaking specifically to and about those that name the name of Yeshua/Jesus as Lord, Savior, and King. So, why would I be contemplating this?

In some form or fashion, I think, every believer is a bridge or a wall. Some are both, but we'll get to that in a few moments. If one were to consider for a moment whether bridges and walls are apt metaphors for believers, one may be hard pressed to determine which is one is better, and which one is worse, depending upon how one views it. But I will make the case that both can be good, and both can be bad, if they are kept separate. My point will be that one must be BOTH (not because I am a pluralist, nor an ecumenicalist, in the modern sense) if one is to be biblical in their obedience (and obedience is the main thrust and point of this). "What does being a bridge or a wall have to do with obedience?" you might be asking. Let's take a moment and consider what bridges and walls are for, and perhaps we'll see...

Maybe you are making the connection already concerning the bridge. After all, we know what bridges are for, and we can immediately recognize that we need to create "bridges" for people to make the journey from unbelief to faith. But my point here is not that we need to create bridges, so much (such as clever evangelization programs, etc.) as that we need to be bridges. One way that I know this is that the scriptures admonish us to not be stumbling blocks to others, to not offend in what we do, etc. "Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling." 1 John 2:10. "For they (the wicked) cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble." Prov. 4:16. "But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts...." Mal. 2:8. "It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble." Rom. 14:21. "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matt. 18:6.

A bridge is obviously not meant to impede, or cause one to "stumble" - it is meant to provide access. And with the few verses that I shared (and there are plenty more that could be shown), we can see that we are not to cause anyone to stumble - which is contrary to the function of a bridge.

A wall obviously has a couple of purposes. Walls form the outer structure for a building. Walls keep unwanted things out, and they provide protection. Walls make a distinction between spaces. They provide (define) boundaries. And we too are to define "boundaries." We too are to be "structured." We too are to "protect." We too are too keep "unwanted things out." "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?...I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?" 1 Cor. 6:2,5. "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge." 1 Cor. 14:29. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you...." 2 Cor. 6:17. Of course there are many other verses I could share, but I think you get the point. Every one of these verses speak of making a distinction ("judging"), setting boundaries ("judge", "touch not"), etc. And so we see that we are to exhibit the function of a wall in our lives (metaphorically speaking).

The problem, though, is that too often we are either all bridge, or all wall (or, at least, way too much of one while minimally being the other). A wall is good for a building (read "family", "Church", "group", ie., any societal "structure"), but if that wall has no door, no window, it becomes a prison. A bridge is good for providing a pathway (read "no impediment", "no hindrance", etc.), but without rails (walls), there is no protection, no safety, as one passes over it. A house without ways in and out (that could, of course, be locked if need be) is useless. A bridge without railing or borders is dangerous. I think you see where I am going with this.

It is not enough to be a wall...even one with doors and windows, for a wall may hold up a building in which one can find rest and protection, it doesn't help anyone get anywhere. A bridge is needful when one is on a journey, but without protection along the path, can be very dangerous. We, as believers, are called to be ambassadors for Messiah Yeshua. An ambassador is "bridge", so to speak, between two parties. We are to provide access for others. We are not the destination (ie., home; building), we must provide access to the destination. And this we do with our words and actions. Many of us can throw out the words, but our actions so often do not square with our words (a non-functional bridge). Or, we lead others astray because we seek to be loving and kind (a bridge), but we provide no boundaries along the way (being non "judgmental" - of course - not properly applying that principle. We are not to be judgmental, but we are to provide right judgment. Notice that the two are very similar, both containing "judge" and "ment" - but one ends where it should, while the other goes to far, if you catch my drift).

So, while the title of this post asks whether you are a bridge or a wall, I left out the third option, the one that we ought to be: a bridge with walls. And how to create this "structure" is found in the "blueprints" - the Bible!

So please, read your bible daily, and do what it says!

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Matt. 7:24-27

Friday, January 7, 2011

Great Program

Please go HERE and listen to Brannon Howse's program from 01/06/11 (and do it quickly, the programs only stay up for a week or two!).

Essential message for today's American "Church".

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Listen To This...

Please go HERE and listen to a recent teaching at a Messianic congregation, given on January 1st of the new year.I just listened to it this morning, and it goes well with my last post ("Just Some Thoughts").

Follow the link above, and click on the 01/01/11 teaching ("Hanukkah and the Christmas wars - Part II").

Monday, January 3, 2011

Just Some Thoughts

I think a lot... about a lot of things. Often I am thinking about biblical passages, or doctrines, or even my own beliefs concerning such things.

Years ago my family and I lived in Mesa Arizona, and the Pastor of the Church we attended there used to give a New Years teaching, every year, based upon 2 Cor. 13:5, which says "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" The message, of course, was meant to stir up the people to take a new, fresh look at themselves as we were entering into a fresh new year (not unlike new years resolutions I suppose, which start out in great hope and prospect, but usually end up by the wayside for most). I don't mean to imply that his message was a doctored up new years resolution. I think the idea of calling upon people to heed 2 Cor. 13:5 anytime is good, but it certainly seems especially appropriate at the start of a new year.

However, how many of us as individuals truly take a good, hard look (a serious self diagnostic, if you will) at ourselves, our beliefs, our actions, attitudes, etc.? I doubt that very many of us do in any real real nitty, gritty sort of way. And why? Well, frankly, because it is painful. And difficult. And unnerving.

Where I work, we make oil field process equipment. When a new vessel has been built, we put them through a pressure test wherein we test them at a higher psig than that of their normal working pressure. We are putting them under intense stress in order to test the welds, etc., of the vessel to make sure that there are no leaks. An improperly built vessel can be very, very costly, if not downright deadly as well.

Paul said that we should examine ourselves, to see whether we are in the faith. A self audit, if you will. Not only do I doubt that many people today actually do this, how many Churches, or even denominations do this? Well, in a way, I suppose it is happening to many. Unfortunately, many Pastors, Churches, and Denominations are going in the WRONG direction! Instead of auditing themselves against God's word, and changing accordingly, they are looking at the trends of the world, and changing accordingly!

I'm not sure that this could be stopped, large scale, save for a Ninevah type intervention from God. However, it certainly CAN be stopped in your individual life, and home.

When was the last time that you actually scrutinized yourself, your behavior, actions, doctrines, and beliefs? Perhaps now is the time? Perhaps today is the day (or night, however the case may be). Instead of examining your beliefs in light of the latest teaching you've heard, why not look deeply into the word of God, and ask some tough questions. Do the things I believe hold up in light of the counsel of God's word? Do I fashion my beliefs and faith after the bible, or by the current trends and ideas floating around christiandom, or my inner circle, or the latest trendy fad book to come out on the Christian market?

You would do well to to such a thing - to examine (put to the test, scrutinize) yourself, to see whether you are actually in the faith! We ALL would do well to do so. So I encourage you to do just that. It's time for an audit! What do you say?