Category: Messianic Lifestyle

Kenneth L. Carlson – Laid to Rest

Kenneth L. Carlson – Laid to Rest

The rosy fingers of dawn climbed the eastern sky over Iacolucci’s old place next door, most likely reflecting in the pond of Martha’s Creek. “This is the day which the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I lay reflecting in the glory of G-d and in His Son, Y’shua HaMashiach – Jesus, the Messiah. Friday, September 12, 2008. The day I would lay my beloved’s body to rest. Sleep had been a welcome respite the past four nights and as much as I relished it, I knew I would have to rise and begin preparation.

Karin came first and tended to the kitchen supplies we would need for the reception. Blue and white plates, cups, spoons and forks and the napkins I had been saving for this day. I had made stacks of them. First a yellow and then a blue – thick dinner napkins in the colors of the Swedish flag, proper for the occasion.

She took the two big cakes my friend Thelma brought from Costco.
Carrot, Ken’s favorite, and chocolate. I was happy with them.

Kathy and Roger and Tiara arrived to attend to my needs. She found the sandals I wanted to wear. They were Ken’s. He never liked them – a North Dakota Swedish farmer doesn’t wear sandals. At least not this one. But Y’shua (Jesus) did and I wanted to. The soft brown suede matched the rust and black dress I wore.

I sat at the computer, making the list. Always, there is a list. Danny, my ben yamin, (my right hand man and number three grandson) was asked to take the specified three pictures to the Friendship Room at Northlake Christian Church where we would be gathering after the service. First the huge one of us kissing at our 40th anniversary that hangs in our room. Then, Ken’s favorite – the one of him, two friends and a group of Israeli soldiers we met in the desert outside Be’ersheba, Israel in November of 1991. They stood in front of their
trucks, waiting to go in for lunch. Someone took it from our tour bus and we had a poster sized copy made to frame. Ken was so proud of that picture. Then I asked Dann to take the picture of Ken sitting at the table praying over a tiny loaf of challah (Israeli braided bread for the Sabbath) and his glasses resting on his Bible.

A cup of coffee sits near by. I love that picture. It’s our rendition of the famous picture of the old grandfather bowing in prayer over his lunch. You’ve seen it. I know you have. I also took Ken’s Bible that I gave him in 1973.

The people of Northlake are a special breed. They have been so kind to us over the years. Jon has attended there over 20 some years. They are so good to him, always caring for his special needs. They brought dinner night after night when Ken had his last surgery when I was too busy to make meals for us. They offered us their facilities free of charge for this day. Northlake is directly across the street from Floral Hills Cemetery. How nice is that?

Danny was to be in charge of the roses. Rich, deep red blooms that Ken loved.

And I asked Danny to add one fern frond from our front yard. He found a beautiful crystal vase to put them in and took them to the cemetery. They sat at the casket, the only flowers there. Jewish tradition doesn’t include flowers.

Kevin, first born but always last to arrive, came at 9:30. He drove me in our red Mercury sable and made sure the wheelchair was in the trunk. I would be arriving in my chariot just in time for the 10 o’clock service. Jon’s (our youngest son) friend, Melvin Tiegs, brought him straight to the cemetery.

As we parked in our designated spot, our friend, Mike Sonnenberg of the Cedar Park Funeral Home, opened my door and introduced Sergeant Amy Balback of the National Guard Honor Guard. She told me she was honored to be there and thanked me for Ken’s service in the military. As Kevin rolled me past the young soldier standing at attention holding his cornet, I thanked him for being there. Most of the people were already seated in the 12 provided chairs or standing behind them. Our children “sat in age” with Kevin next to me. Mike came and stated that we were slightly behind schedule. I could only smile and inform him that
we operated on Jewish standard time – at least 15 minutes past the official time!

Pastor Carl Smith stepped forward and blew his shofar. He does it so well. He explained that the shofar was used, and still is, to call to assemble and for many other reasons. He welcomed our family and made a few opening remarks. He told us about the casket, which was unseen, being covered by a huge American flag.

The casket was hand made of unfinished pine by the Batesville Casket Company of Indiana, said to be the finest in the world. It was made to Jewish specification – no metal anywhere. All dowels and glue. Everything has to be biodegradable. There were four mogan davids (the Star of David) one at each corner. They were also hand carved of pine and stained a rich brown. Mike found a six inch wooden cross at the Christian Bookstore and placed it on the top of the casket as a gift to us. It was all so impressive to me. None of us has ever seen such a casket. It looked as if Y’shua, Himself could have made it in His carpenter shop. So fitting Ken.

Carl finished his remarks, recalling that he and Ken had been serving on the same island in Japan during the Korean War, unbeknownst to each other. They didn’t meet until many years later. Carl and his wife, Henrianna are dear and special friends and the first pastor we called to Avodah Yeshiva Fellowship,
our Messianic Congregation which Ken and I helped co-found in 1998. Three other founders were there – Ruth, Thelma and Donna.

Carl introduced Jim Arneson, our famous local music man. He was part of the Crossroads Quartet for many years and still heads the Crossroads New Revival, a wonderful Southern Gospel group that blesses so many. We met Jim and his five siblings in 1959. His father, Ted Arneson, pastured the little white church on the hill a mile from our house. Bethel Assembly of God. We were members there (and in the bigger building later built in Lynnwood) for many years and I was Church Secretary for over twenty. Ted, now with the Lord, and his wife, Lola, remain among our dearest friends.

Jim led us in “Blessed Assurance”, a great old song of the faith, and the “Old Rugged Cross”. He then sang a medley of songs, including “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad”. Most people probably haven’t heard it. The chorus states:

“Blessed Savior, Thou wilt guide us till we reach that blissful shore where the angels wait to join us in Thy praise forevermore.” Since Ken was a railroad man for 41 years, I guess that was the right song. Jim also sang, at Karin’s request, “I Can Only Imagine” and “Day by Day”, an old Swedish favorite. I wanted “Leavin’ on My Mind”, but that didn’t happen. That’s the song I was singing to Kenny just before he passed. He loved to hear Steve Brock from TBN sing it.

Here are some of the words:

LEAVIN’ ON MY MIND
This old house I’m living in it sure needs some repair;
The windows and the shutters are letting in the cold, cold air.
I say to myself, I’m gonna fix them if I can find the time;
But all I’ve been getting lately is leavin’ on my mind.

Lately all I’ve got is leavin’ on my mind;
It seems that’s all I think about most of the time;
And soon and very soon I’ll leave these troubles far behind;
Lately I’ve got leavin’, leavin’ on my mind.

Carl read the obituary from the Everett Herald:

Kenneth L. Carlson

11/19/1928 – 9/8/2008

Kenny’s gone now. He’s gone ahead to kind of check out the Place – like he’s

done for me for 52 and a half years. I miss him so much. I’ve really missed him

for over two years. That’s how long he’s had this serious heart condition.

Ken has lived in three worlds. The first was a watery one. Warm, cozy, but

pretty small. Got to be quite crowded toward the end, actually. It was a little

lonely but he had all his needs met, didn’t have to do a thing. If you would

have asked him if he would like to leave there and go to a place where he could

see better, move around from place to place, and be part of a loving group he

might have said, “I suppose – sounds good, but no thanks. I’d rather stay right

here.” He didn’t have that choice. A day came when he felt crushing pain that

got worse and worse until he exploded into the brilliant light of a North

Dakota farm house. He had to learn a different lifestyle. It was hard, but he

learned to cope. He came to Seattle in 1945, got a job, fell in love, married

(June 21, 1957) raised a family, and made a good life for himself. Then one day

a fellow came along and asked him if he wanted to go to a better place. One

where there was no more pain or sorrow. A place where he could meet his Creator

and live in His presence forever. The answer was the same. “Sounds wonderful,

but I’m not ready yet. Someday.” Again, he had no choice – the day came, as it

will for all of us.

Thankfully, he had made the decision early on where he wanted to spend eternity

and as a Believer in the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and in His Son, Y’

shua, (Jesus)Ken was ready to make the journey. He’s there now with his

parents, Oscar and Ellen Carlson, his two unborn children, his eldest grandson,

Greg, and so many other friends and family members.

He leaves his grieving but happy-for-him wife of fifty one years, Fern Julian

Carlson; his sons, Kevin and Jon; his daughters, Karin Gudmundson (Rory); and

Kathy Barton (Roger); twelve Grandchildren; three Great Grandchildren; and a

large family of Carlsons, who by G-d’s grace will be joining him one day -

including his elder brother, LeRoy, (Emmie); his youngest sister, Ardis

Shelton; his sister-in-law, Pat Carlson (Ervin, deceased) and brother-in-law,

Eugene Heimbuch (Arlene, deceased).

Ken served his country in the Army during the Korean Conflict, worked for

Northern Pacific Railway (Burlington Northern) for 41 years. He lived in the

same house he and I designed near Martha Lake since 1958. He was a quiet man

who spent his time loving his family and being faithful to his G-d. He was a

member of the Assemblies of God Church for over 30 years, and was co-founder of

Avodah Yeshiva Fellowship, a Messianic Congregation of Christians who believe

in following the Jewish pattern of worship and trying to live the way Y’shua

(Jesus) did when He was here.

We’d like to thank Dr. James Pautz of Swedish Heart and Vascular Institute and

their staff, and Dr. Henry Hochberg as well as the Evergreen Hospice Team for

their kind and loving help.

Ken never wanted a big memorial service, just a family graveside service since

he never wanted to call attention to himself. If you would like to contact his

family, we’re got the same number we’ve had for almost 50 years. It’s in the

phone book. Or e-mail us at: KennethLawrenceCarlson@gmail.com We’d love to hear

from you. Shalom!

After the obituary was read, Carl introduced the young man with the cornet. He

stood some distance away at the entrance to the Camelia Garden where our family

plot is. He played the most beautiful rendition of TAPS that I have ever heard.

I can only describe it as sweet and majestic. Then he and the lady Sergeant,

the Military Honor Guard, came forward and removed the flag from the casket.

With military precision, they gently, slowly and methodically folded the flag

into a triangle of 13 folds, each one representing a message. Sgt. Balback

knelt before me and presented me with the flag, saying it was an honor to be

there and a part of Ken’s service. She bethanked me for his years of military

service. Then she saluted the flag and me and was gone.

Jeff Steadman, current pastor of Avodah, sang the Mourner’s Kaddish in Hebrew.

I will do it in English every day for the next year. It is a beautiful tribute,

giving glory and praise to the Lord and it’s for the living.

Carl dismissed all but the family. The workers came to lower the casket, which

they did a few feet. Then Danny came forward with his list. First, he called

Kevin, our eldest son, who came, took a rose and laid it on the coffin. Then

Karin, our eldest daughter, came and placed one rose for her, one for her son,

Greg, who is rejoicing in heaven with his grandfather, and one for Amy, her

daughter who was home very ill. Kathy placed hers and Danny did one for Jon,

who is disabled. Then the grandchildren came. Danny, Kyle, Josh, Russ,

Christina, Joshua, Renee and Tiara. Jonathan is attending the University of

Southern California and Jason is in the hospital with mersa so roses were

placed for them. Danny placed a rose for me and of course the fern frond. It

was a very touching moment. One none of us will forget.

There was a silver bucket with a small silver shovel at the end of the casket

containing earth. Carl picked up a shovelful and sprinkled it on the casket. It

symbolizes “from dust thou art, to dust thou shalt return.” Then he brought a

shovelful to me. I took it and touched the dirt and he sprinkled it over the

casket, too. Danny, Kyle and Josh Gudmundson took a turn. It is a sign of

respect and love for the deceased. I believe it is also symbolic of the

children of Israel crossing the desert on their exodus to Egypt when they

placed rocks on graves to protect them from being disturbed by animals or

anything. Many cultures observe this and I find it a touching way to say the

final good-bye. The men lowered the casket. Carl blew the shofar one final time

and we left the grounds.

Reception:

There were finger foods, fruit salad, sandwiches, a vegetable tray, cookies,

coffee and lemonade along with the two cakes over at the church. The ladies of

Northlake had tableclothed big round tables and set up eight chairs at each.

The tablecloths were an olive green and each had a large square napkin with a

dark blue background showing large fruit in fresh colors. Striking.

Tiara, our youngest granddaughter, age 6, wore a beautiful black dress and her

favorite tiara. She carried a basket of tiny Butterfingers candy bars. She

circled the room stopping at each table to ask the guests if they would like

one of her Grampa’s favorite candy bars. Of course, everyone did!

We enjoyed each other’s company for quite a while and then went our separate

ways to process the day and the meaning of it, each in our own way.

I believe Ken was honored in the simple quiet fashion he so desired. G-d was

uplifted, exalted and blessed as we praised His name and thanked Him for Ken’s

life and the fruit of his efforts. Yes, this was a day that the Lord had made

and we could rejoice and be glad! One day, not too far in the future, I will

see my Kenny again – never to say “good-bye”!

KEN CARLSON MEMORIAL SERVICE

12 September 2008 – Floral Hills, Lynnwood, WA

Order of Service

Shofar Blown for Assembly

Opening Prayer

Welcoming Remarks

Shema – Carl Smith leading attendees

Introduction of Jim Arneson

Comments and Music – Jim Arneson

Comments (W/Mourner’s Prayer) – Carl

Sung in Hebrew by Jeff Steadman

TAPS & Folding & Presenting Flag

Dismissal

Lowering of Casket

Final Shofar

Reception at Northlake Christian Church

Happy New Year!

Today is the 4th of Nissan on G-d’s calendar. The calendar we all use is called the Gregorian calendar and was put together under Pope Gregory XIII. The Wikipedia Encyclopedia on Google says, “The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world today………. decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom it was named, on 24 February 1582. So it can be properly called a Catholic calendar. They say the new year begins in January. G-d says it begins in the spring on the 1st of Nissan. (Sometimes March – sometimes April)
Kevin Geoffrey, a Messianic Believer, says below “we lonely few” … Isn’t that so true? The Jews on one hand don’t accept Y’shua as the Messiah, the Christians, who do accept Him, totally reject Torah (the so called “Old Testament”) as relevant in our day. We Messianics, who believe both, are not accepted by either! That surely does make us “the lonely few”.
According to the Bible, the new month started last Sunday. Each month on G-d’s calendar begins on the new moon. I am including Kevin’s short e-mail message to me. Hope you enjoy it. FYI = Adonai means Lord and is used for God’s name.
Shalom and Blessings!

And Happy New Year, too!

Yes, the new year of Israel’s calendar has begun, and as usual, our people have no idea. Sadly, as far as the Jewish people are concerned, the new year doesn’t begin for another six months, on the first day of the seventh month, known as “Rosh HaShanah.” And so, in the quiet company of the Scriptures, we lonely few celebrate the new year Adonai actually instructed Israel to observe.

In Exodus 12:1-2 and 23:15b, the Torah teaches us, “Now Adonai said to Moshe… ‘This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you…. the month of Aviv, for in it you came out of Egypt.’” So where did Israel get the idea to celebrate the new year at some other time? By whose authority was Israel’s calendar “changed”?

As we prepare our hearts to begin again the calendar Adonai gave to Israel, my thoughts turn to my people, and I ask, “How can they ever be reached?” If their eyes are blind to the simple teachings of Scripture, how can they ever be opened to the truth of Messiah?

In this new year season and the forthcoming season of Passover, let us renew our dedication to Adonai—to live completely and utterly “sold-out” to Him. Only when we sell ourselves out to God and follow wholeheartedly in the ways of the Master will we be able to reach our Jewish people… indeed, the ends of the earth! As long as we are wishy-washy on the Scriptures and convictionless with how we mix ourselves up with the world, we fail in our calling as disciples of Messiah. Now is the time to stand in the authority given to us by the Master, and fully embrace our identity in Messiah every moment of our lives.

Let us begin by forsaking our own lives, dying to self and giving ourselves to Him, then making this resolution new once again: “With Messiah I have been crucified, and no more do I live, but Messiah lives in me…” (Gal.2:20)

In the Master’s service,

Kevin Geoffrey
President and Founder
Perfect Word Ministries

See you next time,

Shalom, Sharaka

The Family of G-d

These United States of America are made up of 50 separate States, all living under the same Federal Law.

I chose to focus on Colorado because it is almost in the center of the land and because it is my home state. All people who live in Colorado are called Coloradians.

All Coloradians are also Americans. But not all Americans are Coloradians.

The Nation of Israel, like America, is made up of different “States” – or tribes. There are 12 of them. All the tribes lived under the same Law of G-d. The tribe of Judah is in the central part of Israel. The people of Judah lived in an area called Judea. They were called Jews. All Jews are Israelis but not all Israelis are Jews.

By the time the New Testament was written, eleven of the tribes were scattered over all the earth and had lost their identity. The only people left living in the Land of Israel were the Jews, and a few others that had trickled in from the other tribes. So all Israelites were referred to as Jews thereafter.

Technically Believers are actually Israelis, no matter what country they live in. The Family of G-d is made up of redeemed people who have chosen to follow the Lord. They have accepted Y’shua as their Saviour, asked forgiveness and strive to live in obedience to His Word.

G-d has one Family (the Church), one set of instructions for all of them (the Bible), and one land for them (the Commonwealth of Israel).

G-d has one book (set of instructions) for all His family. The Bible was written by Israelis – to Israelis – for Israelis and those who chose to be adopted in.

G-d has one Holy Land for His family. This is the Land of Israel. Technically Believers are actually Israelis, no matter what country they live in. (You can agree with this or not.)

The Family of G-d is made up of redeemed people who have chosen to follow the Lord. They have accepted Y’shua as their Saviour, asked forgiveness and strive to live in obedience to His Word.

The Family of G-d is made up of the seed of Abraham, according to the New Testament, and that includes all Believers. I trust that you have made the decision to become part of the Family of G-d. Ask the Lord to show you His truth and be sure to check out everything I say. G-d bless you!

See you next time!                                                                                                                                                                               Shalom, Sharaka

Shavuot ~ Pentecost

“Today is 49 days, which are seven weeks, of the Omer.”

the following is from Carl Smith, Messianic Pastor
Tomorrow is the 50th day….Shavuot (Weeks, Pentecost) This remembers and celebrates the day the Torah was given at Mt Sinai (Horeb); the day Israel became a congregation; the day of the marriage to YHVH. This remembers and celebrates the special empowering of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) upon the Believers in Yeshua in Jerusalem 10 days after He ascended into heaven. This remembers and celebrates that YHVH has made Yeshua both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36), and that He has paid for our sins if we follow Him. “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh!” (Complete Jewish Bible, David Stern)

This remembers and celebrates the Appointed Time (Mo’ed – H4150) established by YHVH around 3,500 years ago (Lev 23:15-21; Deu 16:9-12); one that millions upon millions of His people have enjoyed over the centuries.

HalleluJah! COME, LET US CELEBRATE!

[Note: If you are a Believer in Yeshua then you are automatically a child of Abraham, grafted into the tree of Israel. Importantly, these are YHVH's "Feasts" (Appointed Times, Mo'adim--cf Leviticus 23). These are His Appointed Times, His "Feasts," not "Jewish Feasts." These are for all of His people. (cf Rom 4:9-16; 11:17-24; Gal 3:6-7; James 2:21) That includes all of us. :-)

It is sobering to consider that if we do not remember and celebrate these mo'adim we are dishonoring, even denying that we trust in, YHVH, our Heavenly Father and Yeshua His Son! (1 John 2:3-6) ]”

See you next time!

Shalom, Sharaka

Passover – Bedikat Chametz

Removing the Leaven

We are required to remove all leaven (which represents sin) from our homes before Passover begins. There is an old tradition called “Bedikat Chametz” which is done the evening before Passover. The house has been thoroughly cleaned (beginning the day after Purim) and there is no yeast, baking powder, flour or products made with flour in the house. A Jewish friend of mine went so far as to feed her dog outside during this time, not even wanting dog food in the house!

Each Congregation and even each family has their own version of how to accomplish the tradition of Bedikat Chametz. The following is mine which was taught to me by my dear friend, the late Ruth Specter Lascelle, whose grandfather was an Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem. Ruth loved her Messiah and taught many, many others through her books, her brother’s radio program, Seattle Bible Training School and in speaking engagements throughout the country. I loved listening to her stories. You can find her books through her late brother, Hyman Specter’s “The Rock of Israel” rockofisrael.org website. I have added some of my own thoughts as well as from Eddie Chumney and others.

Now for the ceremony:

Father, in the darkened house, lights a candle and with the children in tow, goes about the house searching for chametz.

Mom has placed 10 crumbs of bread in plain sight somewhere in the house for them to find. When they are found, they are swept onto a wooden spoon with a feather, then dumped into a linen cloth. The cloth is put into a paper bag and left outside the house until morning when it is burned. Father prays that to his knowledge, all chametz has been removed from their house. Any unseen or unknown chametz is declared null and void. Now they are ready for Passover!

Symbolism:

Father is the head of the house and the priest of the family. Ephesians 5:23 – ‘For the husband is the head of the wife …”

Mother (woman was made to be a help to her husband. They are to submit to each other in love.) Genesis 2:18 -“ ….it is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper…..”)

Searching for chametz (anything made with leavening). Zephaniah 1:12 “…I will search Jerusalem with lamps (candles)….” The Lord was looking for sin.

Chametz = any grain that can ferment, or flour made from any grain, (typically bread crumbs) is leaven (yeast, Baking Powder, etc. ) symbolizes sin in our lives. Exodus 12:19 – ‘For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses……’

Candle (light) = G-d’s Holy Word which shows us our sin. Psalm 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Feather = the Ruach HaKodesh or Holy Spirit, which shows us truth – teaches us.                                                         I Cor. 2:12 – “…. we have received … the Spirit, who is come from G-d that we might know the things that are freely  given to us by G-d.”


Linen cloth = what Y’shua was wrapped in John 19:40 – “Then took they the body of Y’shua and wound it in strips of linen ….

Wooden spoon = the tree (or cross) where Y’shua was crucified Deut 21:22

Paper bag = the tomb John 19:41,42 – “…. A new tomb ….so there they laid Y’shua…”

Burning = Y’shua descending to Hades, a place of burning Acts 2:27 – “Because You will not leave My soul in Hades.”

I have found this little ceremony to be very helpful in knowing I have done my best to remove leaven from my house, according to G-d’s commandment and more importantly, that I have prayerfully asked the Lord to show me any sin in my life so that I can repent and rebuke that which is not pleasing to Him.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

Tu b’Shvat

Happy Birthday, All You Trees Out There!

Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees is upon us! “Tu” comes from the Hebrew letters tet and vav since this is the numerical equivalent of 15. This year, 5766-2006, it falls on February 13th. This is Jewish tradition according to the House of Hillel. Shammai picked an earlier time as most of his followers lived on the coastal plain rather than the high drier areas. The date picked was counted from the time the trees stopped absorbing water from the ground and began to draw nourishment from their sap. This day then becomes the “birthday” of the tree. The 15th of the month of Shevat is the day the sap begins to rise in the trees, signaling the earth’s awakening from its winter slumber. Toward the end of the month, the rains will have tapered off and the first signs of spring appear! Trees begin to show their leaves again and the first tree to bloom is the Almond Tree, a symbol of the Messiah. It is called “The Awakening Tree”. All Israel waits for this sign.

A favorite saying of mine is this:
by Nikos Kisantsakis

I said to the Almond Tree,
“Sister, speak to me of God.”
And the Almond Tree blossomed!

The countryside now becomes a carpet of wildflowers – anemones, daffodils and primrose. Remember – this is Israeli time! Snow covers much of the western world now and spring seems far away here but when you love something you want to identify with it, know what is happening to it and try to be a part of it as best you can. Jews all over the world remember this day with great love for Israel

Tu B’Shevat is a time to celebrate the earth’s cyclical renewal. It’s a good time to contemplate our personal relationship to the environment – God did place man as caretaker of the earth and we have a responsibility to do our best. We are to worship the Creator and not the creation but we should take very good care of it.

“For as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people.” Isaiah 65:22

This day is also dedicated to the praises of the Land of Israel. It is one of joy because the Land begins to bring forth the harvest, produce its fruit and reveal its splendor. The Land of Israel is singled out as being a “good land” because of the fruits of its trees, as it is written:

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of rivers and springs … a land of wheat and barley, and grapevines and figs and pomegranates; a land laden with olives and (date) honey.”

Deuteronomy 8: 7-8

The Land of Israel is blessed with five fruits and two kinds of grain. When the people eat of these and taste their goodness and say the blessings to God for them, then they recall the Source of this bounty and their eyes turn to God as they remember this verse:

“… and you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the
Lord your God on the good land that He has given you.”
Deut.8:10

Jews pray this prayer after meals.

Eating the Fruits

The general custom is to first say the blessing over fruit:

“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu Melech haolam, boreh p’ri ha etz.”
“Blessed art Thou O Lord, King of the universe, who brings forth the fruit of the tree.”

And then the “SHEHECHIANU” (my favorite) the blessing said for every new and special event:

“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu Melech haolam,
shehechianu, v’kimanu, v’higiyanu, lazman hazeh.”
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the universe,
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this
special occasion.”

Some people eat each of the seven foods. Others try to eat of all the fruits grown in the Land, oranges, apples, bananas, carobs, almonds, etc. Jams and preserves are often eaten on this day – some made from the very fruits that were planted on Tu B’Shevat many years earlier!

The holiday of Tu B’Shevat – the New Year for Trees – symbolizes more than just a birthday or an Arbor Day (day of tree-planting). Trees have more importance beyond their beauty and utility. They are a picture of growth, renewal and the continuity of life. In ancient times, this day was an important milestone in their society. While it is not biblically mandated, as such, (see Leviticus 19:23-25. the first mention of this day is found in the Talmud – Rosh Hashanah 1:1 where it says there are four New Year days. First of Nissan, the New Year for kings and the festivals; First of Elul, for the tithing of animals; First of Tishrei, New Year’s Day for the counting of the years, the Sabbatical year (shemittah) and the Jubilee (50 years); and First of Shevat, the New Year for Trees (so says Shammai – Hillel says the Fifteenth and we follow him.) [Lev. 19:23-25 gives necessity for tree birthdays]

Trees were so important in Israel that when some conquerors were in power, they taxed landowners for every tree on their property. Consequently, many trees were cut down, climatical changes took place and the land went to ruin. One of the things the Israelis have done is to replant their nation with trees. School children take very seriously their job of planting trees every year on this date. Here’s a quote from Arutz-7 news Friday, February 6, 1998 “Tens of thousands of saplings will be distributed to the residents of Tel Aviv next week….in honor of Tu B’Shevat. Also 11,000 eucalyptus trees will be planted to replenish nectar supply for bees. There are currently 70,000 beehives in Israel each producing about 88 pounds of honey.” Trees will be planted all over the country. Several organizations have plans in effect to have a tree or many trees planted for people in other countries who cannot come and plant their own. The Jewish National Fund does this and Bridges for Peace, a Christian organization does also. They will have a tree planted in honor or in memory of someone and send a nice looking certificate to you for about $18.00. You can reach these people on the internet, a local synagogue – or me. You’ll love it! We have six trees there already.

Much of this information comes to you from internet – Virtual Jerusalem. Look ‘em up!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

Birth of Y’shua (Jesus) …

When was Y’shua REALLY born?

Most scholars have now concluded that Y’shua (Jesus) was NOT born on December 25th. Even so the “church” continues to celebrate it then – no matter what. So when WAS He born? It is a little known fact but one that can easily be found right in the Bible.

1. We can start with Zachariah the priest. It was his lot that was picked to burn incense in the Holy of Holies when the angel Gabriel appeared to him, informing him of the coming birth of his son and that he was to name him John. (Luke 1:8-13) We know what time of year he was there. We learn from the Book that his son, Yochanan the Immercer (John the Baptist,) was six months older than Y’shua. (Luke 1:26– 33) So when was John (Yochanan) born? Zachariah was a priest, a Levite of the course of Abijah – the eighth course. (Luke !:5) I Chronicles chapter 24, tells us about the courses or groups into which King David had divided the priests. Each course served in the Temple for one week in the beginning of the year, (Ex 12 says the beginning of the year is at Pesach in the Spring) one week in the last half of the year, and all priests served for one week during each of the three Pilgrimage Festivals, which are: Pesach, (Passover) Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) as shown in Lev. 23 . He would have served the 10th week. (He would have served the eighth week, but we need to add the two weeks for Pesach and Shavuot, making it the 10th week) It can be determined that he served in June/July. Counting for the two weeks of separation, (Lev) John would have been born at Pesach (Passover) in March or April. Y’shua, being six months younger, would have been conceived on Chanukah (November or December), and counting the nine months of pregnancy, been born in September or October. Remember, the Jewish calendar counts the months by the moon, each new month beginning on the new moon, whereas the Gregorian (Catholic) calendar month is calculated by the sun. It can be determined that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot in the Fall. Sukkot is called “the season of our joy” and all are commanded to be joyful! Why not!? The Saviour of all mankind was born and the world needs to rejoice at that! Since Sukkot is an eight day celebration – it would be natural to assume that He was circumcised on the eighth day. A must for all Jewish males who kept G-d’s law.

2. The only time the sheep were kept out in the fields in Beit Lechem, would have been at Sukkot. They were kept there in readiness for the sacrifice of Simhat Torah at the conclusion of Sukkot. Angels were said to proclaim, “Glory to God in the heavens and on the earth peace and good will toward the earth.” Sound familiar? This is recorded in the Talmud. (Hallel Five) Incidentally, all sheep raised for sacrifice at the Temple had to be raised within five miles of the Temple. Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock) was in Beit LeChem. The shepherds there were not unlearned men, they were Levitical priests who would have known about the Messiah being born there. They would have heard this proclamation every year! But this time it was said by a host of angels. No wonder they readily accepted the angelic message. He only comes where He is expected ….

3. Then there is King Herod. We know that “wise men” from the “east” came to him in Jerusalem, asking about the birth of the new King. The “wise men” were Jewish scholars who came from Babylon. Babylon is always referred to as “the east”. Remember when Daniel and many others were exiled to Babylon when Israel was conquered by the Babylonians? When the Jews were allowed to return to Israel, most chose to stay in Babylon, where they had jobs, families, houses and lands and had grown very comfortable. Why would they give it all up to go back to desolate Israel and start over? The “wise men” were their descendents. Who but a Jew would know the Jewish Scriptures and know enough to look for the Jewish Messiah coming out of Bethlehem? Another thing – we don’t know how many there were and certainly not their names. Some guess three because there were three gifts, but my guess is there were many more. Why travel all that long way unless you were in a larger, safer group? At any rate, they came and inquired of King Herod and you know the rest of the story. In those days a child was counted to be one year old at birth and so Herod really commanded all baby boys in Bethlehem one year and under be killed. History tells us that Herod died after a transgression against the Jews. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records the death of Herod around September, of 4 BCE (B.C.) So we are still in the right time frame. Put all that together and you have to know that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot!

Whenever He was born, it wasn’t in December. We can chose not to believe a lie and celebrate His birth at Sukkot. We can keep the day focused on Him and not all this crass commercialism that we see in December. However, let’s be patient and kind to those still blinded to the truth and let the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) do His work. One day when Messiah comes, He will bring us all truth! And I think ALL of us will be surprised!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

How to use this site:

Welcome to “Sharaka Shares”. Notice the list of entries on the right.
“Archives” and “Categories”. Click on the one you wish to see.

I suggest you choose the category “Chanukah” and you will see a short except from each of the 11 articles. To read the whole article, click on the title and it will come up.

I hope you will enjoy this website and use it for your prayerful consideration. Don’t take everything I say as absolute truth. Check it out with your Bible and ask G-d to speak to your heart about it. Only He has absolute truth on anything. We humans just keep searching for it and doing the best we can with what we’ve got!

Happy Chanukah !
Shalom, Sharaka

Migdal Eder

The Watchtower of the Flock

Many of you celebrate the birth of Christ at “Christmas”. Literally “Christ Mass“. Most scholars today agree that He was NOT born in the winter, but in mid-Autumn. Most Messianics believe that He was born on the first day of Sukkot. (Sept – Oct) Our family celebrates His birth at that time. We believe He was born in a sukkah (temporary dwelling, hut or stable). We can celebrate His birth without all the trappings of Saturnalia (the ancient Roman celebration of their god by bringing in evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe and other greenery, feasting, drinking, the giving of gifts and time off work to party – all happening on December 25th). At Sukkot we can focus on Y’shua and the real meaning of His birth without all these distractions and the taint of pagan Saturnalia. But that’s another article!

Scripture tells us that Y’shua was born in Bethlehem (Beit l’chem – or house of bread). He lived there only a short time. His family soon went to Egypt and then returned to their hometown of Nazareth, where He was raised. When He started His ministry, He left home, and moved to Kfar Nahum (Capernaum).

So what was Bethlehem all about?

Scripture tells us that the Messiah, G-d’s anointed One, would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the town of His ancestor, King David. Scripture also says the lambs for sacrifice must not have any blemishes. With that in mind, Rabbinical law said that all Passover sacrifices (sheep/lambs) must be raised within five miles of Jerusalem, which Bethlehem is. A group of Levites were appointed to raise these sheep just outside of Bethlehem near Migdal Eder. They were the shepherds to whom the angels appeared. They were not lowly, uneducated men. They were Torah-trained Levites. They should have made the connection to the Messiah, the Lamb of G-d. Perhaps some did.

A watchtower was built to aid the shepherds in watching for predators, human or animal. These watchtowers were common all over the land. They were also found in vineyards for the same reason. The watchtowers were built of stones and had a covered platform on top where a guard could be posted.

The watchtower of Bethlehem was called Migdal Eder – Watchtower of the Flock. Isn’t it wonderful to know how very accurate our G-d is and that He caused Miriam and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem so Y’shua could be born as predicted and within the limits of the sacrificial lambs? Y’shua is our Passover Lamb and had He NOT been born there, He would not have been eligible as a sacrifice. Every letter of the Law was followed though out His whole life.

G-d thinks of everything and you can be sure He thinks of everything in your life. There are no coincidences. G-d has a reason and a purpose for everything that happens. We can trust Him to take care of us in all situations.

Think of Noah’s ark. It was dimly lit; the inhabitants were most likely sea-sick many times and it must have smelled pretty bad. As bad as it must have been, G-d preserved their lives and we are here because of them and their faith. For Noah and his family, it must have been a terrible year and yet they were the only ones that made it through alive.

Let’s take heart, no matter how bad it gets, G-d has a plan. Let’s trust in Him and keep His commandments. The Word says if we love Him, we will. And it will be worth it all!

See you next time!
Shabbat Shalom,
Sharaka
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The Ketubah – An Official Marriage Document

The Ketubah – An Official Marriage Document
By the late Rev. Polly Perkins

The ketubah is the official Jewish marriage certificate. The word means, literally, “written”. The origin of the ketubah is quite ancient, going back to Biblical times. The oldest existing copy is written on papyrus and dates back to the 5th century, BC.

A Jewish bridegroom at the time of Y’shua (Jesus) as well as today, would have a Ketubah drawn up and read at the marriage ceremony. This document becomes the property of the bride at the time of the wedding. Included in it would be the groom’s obligations to work for and maintain his wife as well as to lovingly care for and honor her. The ketubah was a legal document that guaranteed her care and provision in case of divorce or widowhood.”

My friend, Polly, a well known speaker, author and Messianic teacher, wrote this in her book, “Christ the Bridegroom and Jewish Wedding Customs”. Copyright 1989.

I see that this is a great idea – too bad we in today’s world don’t have this custom! If I were a young bride starting out today, I would certainly choose a Jewish wedding, complete with a Ketubah, and the covenant-making wine ceremony. Wouldn’t you? If you had a Ketubah, what would you want it to say?

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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October 31st

The Devil’s Holiday

Every year it happens! I try to find a good program on TV and all I find is “ghost stories”, murder and terror on the tube! This seems to go on for at least the last half of October. Why? It all has to do with “Hallowe’en” or All Hallows Eve which comes on the last day of this month.

For years I have hated this day. We used to go to friends homes to visit or go with them to a restaurant just to get away from the “trick or treaters” The last few years I have taken a different turn. We now buy little candy bars and attach a note to each one. It says:

We don’t like Hallowe’en!
This day is a religious holiday – but it’s not about our God ~
it’s about the devil and we don’t celebrate it.
We DO like kids
Here is some candy for you.
God bless you ~ He loves you!

Have you ever looked into the real meaning of Oct 31st? Here’s part of an old document I got from The Lampholder Newsletter in 1999.

Halloween: Trick or Treat?

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not G-d, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known G-d, or rather are known of G-d, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years” (Galatians 4:8-10).

Well, it’s that time of year again! People rush to find that special orange pumpkin, search for the scariest costume, clothe the outside of the house in an eerie arrangement of glowing monsters, sticky spider webs, and a vast array of haunting, seasonal decor. All of this effort for the innocent fun of Halloween—perhaps? We certainly don’t want to take away anyone’s fun, but hundreds of years have totally changed the real truth behind the masked disguise of Halloween.

Many people are not even aware of Halloween’s historical origins, nor do they care. Whether or not you choose to participate in the celebration, you still might consider reading some historical highlights on how it all began—the story behind the celebration —-And yes, Halloween is a seasonal celebration connected to the movements of the heavens!—

Long ago, the festivals of the L-rd were changed into Church “holy days” (holidays). The changes began with Constantine (around the year A.D. 325), when Christianity and Paganism united. It was Constantine’s efforts to appease the masses. A unification, of sorts, that united all people of various backgrounds and beliefs into one system that appeared to make everyone happy. The Christians were no longer persecuted but accepted, the Jews tolerated but ignored, and the Pagans? Well, they had their god(s), too, and so, in the name of peace, followed the blending of all types of beliefs, religions, philosophies, and cultures into one harmonious union that was intended for the good of all.

Festivals and Holy Days
One of the ways to achieve harmony among religions was to “correct” the festivals of the Lord by reinterpreting them into “acceptable” days for worship. One way of doing this was to revise the Jewish Calendar system by converting the Hebrew festivals. Now, this wasn’t easy because the Hebrew calendar aligned most precisely with the movement of the heavens. This was G-d’s calendar given to mankind, and this calendar aligned exactly with the Precession of the Equinox (PE). The best way to describe the PE is to look at the “hands” on a clock. The hands on a clock move from East to West, right to left, and this is the same way the PE move in the heavens. Interestingly, it is also the way to read Hebrew, from right to left.—

The reason? Because G-d ordained the heavens and time according to His time-line.

This new calendar consisted of a blending of the old with the new, and had four cardinal days (time-periods) set aside for “holy days.” They were fall (Autumnal Equinox), winter (Winter Solstice), spring (Vernal Equinox), and summer (Summer Solstice), and determined the four major festivals celebrated throughout the year.

The Autumn Equinox - day and night are equal in length. It is a time for celebrating the harvest, endings, the dying of nature, and the dark night of the soul. The Autumnal Equinox also marked the beginning of the pagan year. This was the celebration that came to be known as Halloween.

The Winter Solstice - shorter days and longer nights
It is the time period representing the Feast of Saturnalia (by the Romans) honoring the god/planet Saturn. The Feast of Saturnalia occurred from December 17 to the 24th. This was a time of debauchery, orgy, and drunkenness. On December 25th, the Romans celebrated the birthday of the “sun god.” They believed that the sun died during the winter months and after the Winter Solstice, when the sun reclaimed the lengthening of the day, it was “born” anew.

The Vernal Equinox - day and night are equal in length
It was a time to celebrate the joys of spring, new life, and the resurrection of nature over death. The Vernal Equinox is an ancient festival celebrating the death and rebirth of the gods Tammuz and Damuzi. This was time to celebrate the rites of fertility done through orgies and lasciviousness, and worship to the gods/goddesses of fertility in human/animal sacrifices. (Ishtar) The use of colored eggs, “May Poles,” rabbits, etc., were prominently used in festival worship.

The Summer Solstice – longer days and shorter nights
The Britains called this a “Midsummer Night.” It was a time of great abundance revealed in celebrations of drunken abandonment.

A Celebration of Death
From the earliest of times, as far back as B.C.E. 400, the ancient Celtic civilization gathered to celebrate the festival of the god of death, “Samhain,” during the dark night of the soul, October 31st, where the souls of the wandering dead were thought to manifest themselves to the living. This was a celebration of the Autumnal Equinox as a time of harvest, the culmination of Summer, and the dying of nature. It was a festival to bring FEAR over the minds of the unenlightened.

At the stroke of midnight, the Celts offered human sacrifices to the god of death. It was during this night, the soul passed from death to a new birth just as the clock sounded the midnight call ushering in a new day. — A time of death to the old year and birth to the new, and so began the ancient Celtic New Year.

In AD 834, Pope Boniface IV moved the celebration of “All Saints Day” from May to the 1st of November. The day before became All Hallows’ Evening, or Halloween. You may also remember that October 31st is Reformation Day in celebration of Martin Luther posting his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the church (this action, among others, essentially began the Reformation). All Saints Day was an attempt to rid the people of the festival of Samhain along with its sorcery and occult divination. All Saints Day was a time to honor those martyred by Rome, but not recognized (by the Reformers) as a scriptural holy day.

Pope Boniface IV failed in his attempts to replace the festival of death with All Saints Day, because today Halloween is more popular than ever before. In fact, many people begin Halloween as “the holiday” season leading up to Christmas. This is evidenced on many neatly landscaped lawns in the form of a Santa Claus dressed as a witch or as black cats dressed in reindeer formation pulling a sleigh.
The name “Halloween” came to us by way of the British Isles. All Saints Day was known as “All Halloweds” honoring Christian martyrs. The festival of Samhain always occurred the night before All Saints Day or, as it came to be known, All Hallows Eve (or All Hallow’s E’en). All Hallows Eve passed down to us today as the name of Halloween.

Pagan Practices Forbidden in the Old Testament

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire [human sacrifice to god(s);
[Satan], or that useth divination [fortune-telling; calling upon the spirit world to know the future; one who interprets omens], or an observer of times [astrologer], or an enchanter [power gained from evil spirits to control the mind or will of another; one who casts spells, evil omens, or curses], or a witch [witchcraft], Or a charmer [one who uses sorcery or magic; one who manipulates the elements and unseen forces; a medium or spiritist], or a consulter with familiar spirits [one who seeks advice, wisdom, or council from evil spirits], or a wizard [male witch; warlock], or a necromancer [one who seeks council from the dead]. …For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord…” (Deut. 18:10-11).

JACK-O-LANTERNS
Jack-O-Lanterns, what is their significance? The World Book Encyclopedia, 1977 edition, volume 9, page 24-26 says, “The apparently harmless lighted pumpkin face of `Jack-O-Lantern’ is an ancient symbol of a damned soul.” According to an article I read by Dr. John MacArthur, Jr. according to folklore “Jack-O-Lanterns were named for a man called Jack, who could not enter heaven or hell. As a result, he was doomed to wander in darkness with his lantern until judgment day.” With this in mind, people began to hollow out pumpkins and turnips, placing candles inside to scare evil spirits from their houses. What a tragedy. John 3:16 makes it clear that no one has to be outside of heaven…”For God so loved the world (mankind), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should NOT perish, but have everlasting life.” It is also clear that if any individual refuses to trust Christ as Savior he is condemned already (John 3:18 & 36). There is no wandering. It is either Heaven or Hell depending on whether you have trusted Christ as your Savior (John 14:6; Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:8-9). There was another purpose for Jack-O-Lanterns according to author Owen Rachleff. “The candlelit pumpkin or skull… served as a beacon for the sabbat and as a signal to mark those farms and homes that were sympathetic to the Satanists and thus deserving of mercy when the terror of the night (Halloween)
began.” (The Occult Conceit; page 190).

Be careful how you observe Oct 31st and don’t give satan any place in your schedule! What will you do on this day?

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Shalom –

The word “shalom” is probably the most easily recognized word in the Hebrew language. One thinks of it as a greeting – “hello” and/or “good-bye”. It is so much more than that.

When one meets a friend, he says, “Shalom aleichem” (ah – LE – khem), meaning peace to you.
The response is – “Aleichem shalom” (and to you – peace)

Most people don’t understand what this word really means. It is not simply a greeting (hello/good-bye) it means, according to page 371 of David Stern’s “Jewish New Testament”:


“peace, tranquillity,
safety, well-being,
welfare, health,
contentment, success,
comfort, wholeness,
and integrity.”

Y’shua says in Matt 10:12, “When you enter someone’s household, say ‘shalom aleichem’ if the home deserves it, let your shalom rest on it, if not, let your shalom return to you.”

If Y’shua said to do this – it must be important and we would do well to practice it.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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America, Israel and Money

“Echad” – “One”

All Hebrew letters have a number value. Add these numbers up and you get 13
alef = 1 (one)
chet = 8 (eight)
dalet = 4 (four)
13

Spell them and you get e / cha / d “echad”, which means “one”.
alef + chet + dalet = echad

Therefore in the Hebrew mindset – thirteen is connected with one.

There are only two countries in the world who were built on an idea rather than on real estate. These two countries are Ancient Israel and Modern America. Did you know that both these countries have great influence on the other? If America had not helped Israel over the years – especially in 1948, she probably would not have survived. If America had not been built on the Judao/Christian beliefs, God would not have blessed her and made her who she is today.

We just learned that one – “echad” is connected to thirteen.

Look at the back of a one dollar bill and notice how much Israeli influence there is!

1. Notice that there are 13 stars over the eagle’s head in the shape of a Mogan David. (star of David)
They are surrounded by what is meant to portray as the shekinah or glory of G-d.

2. One of the eagle’s claws holds 13 arrows – the other holds an olive branch. You will need a magnifying glass to see it but there are 13 olives on it.

2. Notice the pryamid on The Great Seal – it has 13 layers of stone.

3. There are 13 letters in the Latin words “ANNUIT CÆTPIS” which means “God favors our undertakings”.

4. The motto of the United States is “e pluribis unum” which contains 13 letters and is Latin for “one out of many”. See it on both sides of the eagle’s head. Echad.

“These 13 things appear ONLY on a ONE dollar bill – not any other. There is a reflexion of Judaism in the soul of America.”

This is a quote from my second favorite rabbi – Seattle’s own Rabbi Daniel Lapin whom I have been privileged to hear on many occasions. He has spoken several times at Messianic gatherings.

Turn your dollar upside down. There is a menorah between the eagle’s face and tail so that the main body of the eagle – the American symbol becomes God’s symbol for Israel.

Pastor John Hagee has also preached about this on television.

God bless America and bring Peace to Jerusalem!

This will only happen as America blesses Israel and continues to support them. Let’s each one do our part as best we can to make sure this happens. Compare the evacuation from Gaza and the evacuation from New Orlean, Houston, etc. Makes ya think, doesn’t it?

OK – go get out a dollar and see what you can find!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Letter from a Friend

A friend wrote:

“………Do you have any advice for me? Is there anyway you can think of that I can show or say what I really mean, in a way that will get them to trust that they should drop everything and get into God’s Word, rather then just assume that what they already know is all that they need to?”

This friend also asked if I thought they should go to Disneyland. They had planned on it and then changed their minds because of Disneyland’s support and acceptance of homosexuality, magic and fairytale adventures, etc.

My answer:

There is nothing worse than a reformed smoker — you know? One who quits and then jumps on everybody else to quit, too? I know this – been there, done that! I’m not saying YOU have, ————,
I’m just saying — there is NOTHING you can say to anybody to make them “…to trust that they should drop everything and get into G-d’s Word…” Remember, G-d commands us to be witnesses….

WITNESSES!

We are the Bible that everyone reads. What we DO means so much more than what we say. NO ONE comes to the Lord because of what we say. Yes, we are to tell — but they will be watching us and sometimes we “tell” more by the way we live, than by what we say.

ONLY the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) can bring conviction on people. ONLY G-d can call a person to salvation. WE are to witness to them. Live the Life in front of them and trust G-d to bring them in by His Ruach. We can’t get anybody saved and we can’t get anybody to “become Messianic”. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Sometimes I think we try too hard.

We must pray for our friends and loved ones, ask the Lord to lead us into a spiritual conversation with them and then tell how G-d has made changes for the better in our lives. That’s so much better than just demanding people listen to us and do what we do. Do you see what I’m saying? WE only can do OUR part and trust G-d to do His.

Even G-d can’t FORCE anyone to live a Torah-observant life. He can sure make you wish you WOULD have —— but He is a Gentleman and only calls to each of us to hear His voice and obey. You can’t take it personally if people don’t listen to you. Just do your best and leave the rest up to G-d.

I am so pleased at your growth and desire to please the Lord by your service. You just have to remember – each of us is only one little cog in the wheel. We do our part, others do theirs and G-d will get the job done. Keep your eyes on Him and His word and do like the Sh’ma says, “….keep (my commandments) in your heart, talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.” That’s pretty much ALL the time! That’s our job. What happens after that is His business.

About Disneyland. I strongly respect your decision and your desire to please the Lord. Perhaps this is His will for you. Only you can know that. However I do not agree with it. We are in this world but we are not a part of it.

Say Disneyland is the world. What do we do? Stay in our houses and never come out? No, we see the unG-dly things out there and stay away from them, just like we do in our cities and communities. Y’shua
went to the homes of publicans and sinners and ate with them. I have a family member who goes into taverns and bars (always taking another Christian buddy) and witnesses to the people in there. I am not called to do that, but some are.

There are lots of things at Disneyland that you CAN do and many you wouldn’t want to. Life is made up of choices. Most restaurants sell treif (non-kosher food). Shall we not eat there? Many department stores give some of our money to unG-dly projects, abortion rights, homosexual endeavors, etc. Shall we not patronize those stores? The fact is WE JUST DON’T KNOW which stores are which or exactly where our money goes. We just have to do what we can, when we can and where we can.

I’m not trying to discourage you from your decision, I’m only trying to help you understand that we must make choices to live G-dly lives in a sinful, sinful world.

G-d bless you as you continue to strive to please Him in the best way you know how! Wherever you go, have a wonderful vacation. I know you will take G-d with you and witness as you are prompted to!

With love and Shalom, Sharaka
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Chanukah – Light the Chanukiah

Blessings for Chanukah Lighting
The blessings to be said after lighting the shamesh every night are these:

Traditional:
“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzvivanu l‘hadlik ner shel Chanukah”. Blessed art Thou O Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and commanded us to light the Chanukah lights.” (G-d did NOT actually command us to light candles …ever… so we substitute this prayer instead.)

Messianic:
“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’divaro anachnu madlikim haneyrot ner shel Chunukah. Blessed art Thou O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy command ments and in whose name we kindle the Chanukah lights.”

“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech h’olam, assher natan lanu chagim, min h’gim, oomo’adim, l’simcha, l’chgdil et da’at Adonai, v’livnot o tan lanu b’emunah kidosha v’na’ahlah.
Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has given us holy days, customs and times of happiness, to increase knowledge of G-d and to build us up in our most holy faith.

“Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our G-d, King of the universe, didst perform miracles for our fathers in those days at this season. We kindle these lights to commemorate the miracles and wonders, the victorious battles that that Thou hast achieved for our fathers in those days at this season, through Thy Holy Priest, Y’shua. During all the eight days of Chanukah, these lights are sacred and we are not permitted to make use of them; but are only to look upon them in order to give thanks and to praise Thy Name for Thy miracles, wonders and Thy salvation.”

Light the candles after dark and sing songs of your choice which bring glory to G-d. You may want to have a theme for each night. Your candles should burn for at least a half hour. They should be in a window facing the street to be a witness to passers by. Otherwise a table will do.

Chanukah is the time for family, community, education and thankfulness to G-d for His miracles! Be sure to spend time in the Word and in Prayer.

How To Light the Chanukiah

First night: Well after sunset, place your chanukiah in a front window where it can be seen from the street.

If this is not safe – use your fireplace mantle, dining room table or other suitable place. I put an electric chanukiah in my front window and the “real” one on my dining room table.

Place a special chanukah candle in the far right holder.

Say the Shehechianu (first night only) and the other blessing.

Light the candle with the shamish (the center (or tallest) candle.

Other nights: Place the candles, starting on the right side and moving to the left, adding one new candle each night.

Say the blessing. Use the shamish and light from the left to the right.

On the eighth night – they will all be lit.

Do not use the light for reading or any other practical function.
It is lit only to honor G-d.

Before Lighting Blessings

1)The “Shehechianu” to be said on first night only = “Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu, vekiyemanu vehigi’anu lazman hazeh.” (Blessed art Thou, O L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has given us life, and sustained us, and brought us to this season.)
2) “Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech ha’olam, she’asah nisim la’avotenu, bayamim hahem bazeman hazeh.” (Blessed art Thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has done miracles for our fathers in days gone by, at this season.)

Let the candles burn out, do not extinquish them and do not use them for reading or any other purpose. They are only to be used as a memorial.

Enjoy the holiday!
See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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How To Prepare for a Festive Meal:

Article from Aish.com:

Author Biography:
Chef Herschel prepares hundreds of meals a day at Aish HaTorah’s World Center in Jerusalem. He caters the five star meals for the Jerusalem Fund missions as well as the daily food for the Yeshiva students. Here are his suggestions for preparing for a dinner. You can use this for any meal, not just for the High Holy Days.

Rosh Hashana is fast approaching. As the chef for the yeshiva, I need to be ready to serve four holiday meals for 200 people and they need to be good. And I don’t mean maybe. Here is how I get ready. (This plan works for any holiday —–)

1. Deadline and commitment.

2. Plan. I take some time and look at what I did last year. Decide what I will keep on the menu and decide what new dishes I’m going to prepare. Only one or two new dishes so preparation doesn’t become unmanageable.

3. Discuss the menu with family or friends. See how they like it, consider their suggestions.

4. Make a list of everything that I will need. Shop early.

5. Make a plan. Do a little bit each day. Make a schedule. Be realistic. Get help. You can’t do it alone. Finish early, allow for the unexpected.

6. Put it into action. Don’t procrastinate.

7. Evaluate. Take a step back. Make adjustments if necessary.

8. Serve it. Tablecloths, china, silverware, crystal and flowers. Take pleasure and enjoy.

You can follow my plan for your own personal preparations for Rosh Hashana — not just for preparing the food, but spiritual preparation — and you’ll be ready for the High Holidays.

This article can also be read at:

http://www.aish.com/family/cooking/Complete_Rosh_Hashana_Menu.asp

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Elul – the Month of Teshuvah (Repentance) II

At Sunset, on the last night before the last month of the year, one of the most important months begins. It is the month called Elul. There are 30 days in it to turn your eyes and your heart toward God. To repent of those things you do which are NOT pleasing to Him. There are 10 more days, The Days of Awe, in the month of Tishrei to make sure you are right with your Maker. Any day of the year is, of course, the best day to do this but in the Jewish tradition, the month of Elul is used to illustrate repentance. The shofar blows every morning to call to repentance. Will you hear the call? Use it to turn to God and make Him the center and focus of your life. Below are some lines from Eddie Chumney’s book on the Festivals. (If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you check it out or buy a copy.)

Chaper Seven: The Season of Teshuvah
A special season known as Teshuvah, which in Hebrew means “to return or repent,” begins on the first day of the month of Elul and continues 40 days, ending with Yom Kippur. Thirty days into Teshuvah, on Tishrei l, comes Rosh HaShanah. This begins a final ten-day period beginning on Rosh HaShanah and ending on Yom Kippur. These are known as the High Holy Days and as the Awesome Days (Yamim Nora’im, the days of awe). The sabbath that falls within this ten-day period is called Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Return. Five days after Yom Kippur is Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Teshuvah begins on Elul 1 and concludes on Tishrei 10, Yom Kippur. Each morning during the 30 days of the month of Elul, the trumpet (shofar) or ram’s horn is blown to warn the people to repent and return to G-d.

Teshuvah (repentance) speaks to all people. Those who believe in the Messiah are called to examine their lives and see where they have departed from G-d. It is a call to examine the Scriptures and the evidence that the Messiah was who He said He was.

G-d has always had a heart to warn people before He proclaims judgment. G-d warned the people before the flood, and He warned Nineveh before it was ruined. He does not want anyone to receive the wrath of His judgment (Ezekiel [Yechezekel] 18:21-23,30-32; Zephaniah 2:1-3; 33:1-7; 2 Peter 3:9).

The whole month of Elul is a 30-day process of preparation through personal examination and repentance for the coming High Holy Days. The shofar is blown after every morning service. Psalm 27, which begins with “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” is also recited at the end of the morning and evening liturgy. The message from Elul 1 to Rosh HaShanah is clear: Repent before Rosh HaShanah. Don’t wait until after Rosh HaShanah, or you will find yourself in the Days of Awe.

There are idioms or phrases that help us identify the days in the season of Teshuvah (repentance). Just as unfamiliar foreigners may be confused when they hear Americans call Thanksgiving Day, “Turkey Day” or “Pilgrims’ Day,” non-Jewish believers in Yeshua can be confused by the different terms for the major feasts of the L-rd.

Rosh HaShanah: Names, Themes, and Idioms

Teshuvah (repentance)
Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year, Birthday of the World)
Yom Teruah (the Day of the Awakening Blast [Feast of Trumpets)
Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment)
HaMelech (the Coronation of the Messiah)
Yom HaZikkaron (the Day of Remembrance or memorial)
The time of Jacob’s (Ya’akov) trouble (the birthpangs of the Messiah, Chevlai shel Mashiach)
The opening of the gates
Kiddushin/Nesu’in (the wedding ceremony)
The resurrection of the dead (rapture, natza1)
The last trump (shofar)
Yom Hakeseh (the hidden day) “The day that no man knows”

From Eddie Chumney’s book – “The Seven Festivals of Messiah”

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2175/chap7.html#CHAP7

If you’ve never seen this book, go to Eddie Chumney’s site and check it out!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles

Sukkot (sue – COAT)
The Festival of Booths/Feast of Tabernacles


Exodus 12:37 tells us that:

When G-d’s people left Egypt with Moses, they camped and put their animals into a shelter called a “SUKKAH”, which means “booth”, “stable”, “hut”, “shelter”, or “tabernacle” in the Hebrew language . “SUKKOT” is the plural of the word. Moses called that place “Sukkot”.

Leviticus 23:
G-d gave the Children of Israel Seven Feasts. He called them “Holy Days” – “holy unto the Lord”, but we have changed the word to “holidays” and most Christians do not celebrate them. We have chosen to honor other days instead. Now many have once again begun to celebrate these Feasts or Festivals. They are not “Jewish” Feasts – the Bible calls them “the Feasts of the Lord”. Starting at sunset, (G-d’s day starts at sunset – Genesis says “the evening and the morning were the first day”) on the 15th day of the seventh month, which begins at sunset the night before, Jews all over the world and many Christians will celebrate this Special Holy Day.

SUKKOT – is given by G-d Himself, and lasts for eight days. God gave us a special calendar and it is not the same as the one we use, so we find SUKKOT comes on a different day every year on our Gregorian calendar. On the Jewish calendar, each month starts on the first day of the new moon. In 2004, Sukkot began on the evening of the full moon, September 29th (Tishrei 15). Next year it will be on another day on our calendar but still the 15th of Tishrei.

II Timothy 2: 15
You might be thinking, “OK, so G-d gave all this to the Jews – what does it have to do with me? Why should I care?” G-d loves all of His people, Jews and Gentiles alike. He chose Jews to write His Book and it was written to them. But every thing in His Book is for everyone who loves G-d and wants to read His Word. We ALL can learn something from EVERY THING in the Bible if we will only ask G-d to show us what He has in mind. He is trying to teach us. Let’s open our hearts to Him and learn all He has for us. “Study to be approved..”

Nehemiah 8
Notice that the sukkah (sue-kah) is only a temporary shelter – built to last only one week. It is not very sturdy. A strong wind could blow it all over. It is not built to last at all. Every year, the Jewish people build a sukkah wherever they live. It’s funny to look up at apartment buildings in Jerusalem and see sukkot on the balconies! In our State, it’s too cold and usually too wet to sleep out, so Jews and Messianic Believers here just eat in them. The Jews in Israel and warmer countries also sleep there.

Psalms 91:1-5
Sometimes it has a door – but there is no lock. People eat and sleep in this place for a whole week. This is the way they lived all the years of their wanderings through the desert. They had to rely on G-d alone for their needs. We can learn from this that it isn’t the lock that protects us – it is G-d! It is always G-d! We all really live in a house of sticks and the “big bad wolf” could blow it down if it wasn’t for G-d, our Mighty Protector. We should remember how G-d’s people lived all those years in tents and flimsy shelters. We can understand that He took care of them then and believe He will take care of us now! Our protection is from Him and Him alone! We must never forget to thank Him for His love and care.

Deuteronomy 16:13-15
It is to be built after the crops are gathered in. The people were to gather together and rejoice and be thankful. They were to share with others, especially the poor. Sound familiar? This was really the first Thanksgiving! When the Puritans came to America, they only continued what God started way back in the Brit Chadasha (Older Covenant or Testament). It is still a time to rejoice and be thankful. Why not write a `thank you’ note now to Someone Special in your life? We need to be thankful to people and to G-d.

Zachariah 14:16 -17
The sukkah is to be re-built every year – generation after generation for all time. We will celebrate this festival during the Millennium. Our family decided not to wait, we celebrate it now! We have some of our meals in it and sometimes we invite friends. We sing songs, listen to beautiful music and read the Scriptures. We try to think about the beautiful place that our G-d is preparing for us. Our bodies are like a sukkah – an earth-suit – a temporary dwelling until we get the real one.

Building a sukkah is one way He helps us remember. It is said we retain 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we see and 90% of what we “do” or act out. G-d knew this and I believe this is why He asked us to “do” these things. He wants to make sure we remember His teachings and apply them to our daily lives as well as show us what’s coming up ahead in the future.
Another interesting thing about a sukkah – remember that the word can also mean “stable”? It is written that Y’shua, the Hebrew name for Jesus, was born in a stable. Was this stable really a sukkah? After all, this is the Feast of Tabernacles and we know that Y’shua was sent to “tabernacle” with us. What better time for Him to appear? All Feasts of the Lord have a New Covenant (Testament) fulfillment. The actual date of His birth has been lost. In Biblical times birthdays were not celebrated by the Hebrews. We were to remember the death and resurrection of Y’shua, but never actually told to celebrate His birth.

I believe He was probably born on the first day of Sukkot – 15 Tishrei, 04 BC. If we note the time of Zachariah’s service in the Temple, we can pinpoint the time of the birth of his son, John the Baptist which was about the time of Passover in the Spring. His cousin, Y’shua, was born six months later. That would make it during Sukkot. If He was born the first day and circumcised the eighth day, that would take care of the whole eight day Festival time.

Whenever it was, we know He was born, He did die and die for you and me in our stead. We have only to accept His sacrificial death, give our hearts to Him and make Him Lord of our lives. Then this `sukkah’ or temporary earth suit – this body of clay – will be changed forever into an eternal one that we might live forever with Him…
Baruch HaShem! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
In the meantime — get ready to rejoice and be glad!

Chag Sameach! – Happy Festival! © 1994

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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The Month of Elul

The shofar is to be sounded every morning during the month of Elul.

The shofar or ram’s horn, has always held a prominent role in the history of G-d’s people in the Bible:

The Torah was given to Israel with the sound of the shofar (Exodus [Shemot] 19:19).
Israel conquered in the battle of Jericho with the blast of the shofar (Joshua 6:20).
Israel will be advised of the advent of the Messiah with the sound of the shofar (Zechariah 9:14,16).
The shofar will be blown at the time of the ingathering of the exiles of Israel to their place (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 27:13).
The shofar was blown to signal the assembly of the Israelites during war (Judges [Shoftim] 3:27; 2 Samuel 20:1).
The watchman who stood upon Jerusalem’s walls blew the shofar (Ezekiel [Yechezekel] 33:3-6).
The shofar was blown at the start of the Jubilee year (Leviticus [Vayikra] 25:9).
The shofar is a reminder that G-d is sovereign (Psalm [Tehillim] 47:5).
The ram’s horn, the shofar, is a reminder of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and God’s provision of a ram as a substitute (Genesis [Bereishit] 22:13).
The shofar was blown to announce the beginning of festivals (Numbers [Bamidbar] 10:10). The shofar was blown to celebrate the new moon on Rosh HaShanah (Psalm 81:1-3).
The blowing of the shofar is a signal for the call to repentance (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 58:1).
The blowing of the shofar ushers in the day of the L-rd (Joel 2:1).
The blowing of the shofar is sounded at the rapture of the believers and the resurrection of the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
John was taken up to Heaven in the Book of Revelation by the sound of the shofar (Revelation 4:1).
Seven shofarim are sounded when G-d judges the earth during the tribulation (Revelation 8-9).
The shofar was used for the coronation of kings (1 Kings [Melachim] 1:34,39).

There are three Fall Festivals which will begin with the Preparation month of Elul:

1. Yom Teruah (sometimes called Rosh HaShanah, New Years Day, or Feast of Trumpets)
begins on the first day of Tishrei, which begins the evening of September 17, 2001.

2. Yom Kippur, (follows in ten days, and is the Day of Atonemen) is the holiest day of
Judaism. We can praise God that Y’shua is the Lamb of God – our atonement. (at-one-ment)

3. Sukkot, (or Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles) comes on the night of the full moon. Many of us believe Y’shua was born in a sukkah (booth or stable) on the first day of this eight day
festival.

See Leviticus 23 for information on these Fall Feasts. You are strongly encouraged to celebrate them this year!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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What’s This About Candles?

You’ve been to weddings where the Bride and Groom each take a lighted candle and light a larger one together. This signifies a change…. In this case, joining two lives into one.

In the same way, lighting Shabbat candles shows a change in time. It divides the mundane work week from G-d’s holy day of rest. In Jewish and Messianic homes, the mother of the household covers her head to show respect for G-d and that she is under His authority and lights two candles 18 minutes before sunset on Friday evening. This begins the Sabbath/Shabbat in their home. In ancient days, Jews were put to death if they did not keep the Sabbath. This 18 minute period is insurance thought up by the rabbis. Another candle ceremony 25 hours later, ends the Sabbath. It is called Havdalah. It uses a lapid (candle with 4-6 wicks, making it a torch) sweet-smelling spices and wine.

On G-d’s calendar, each new day begins at sunset. The Tanach says in Bresheet (Genesis) 1:5: “G-d called the light ‘Day’ and the darkness He called ‘Night’ . And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.” So Saturday/Sabbath/Shabbat truly begins at sunset on Friday night. The Roman powers that were, thinking they were so much wiser than G-d, decided the new day should begin a t midnight. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man……” We must live as directed by our society in this matter, but we must know in our hearts what G-d has said. “His utmost for our highest…” His ways are always best and one day will again be the norm.

Any two white candles may be used, but you may purchase Shabbat candles in many grocery stores. They will burn about four hours. In summer time, I often cut mine in half if I plan to retire early. Sometimes I light them early – around 6:00 pm and we have dinner immediately following. Sometimes we have dinner early and light Shabbat candles just before dessert. One can light them early, but never past sunset. Then it’s too late.

This little ceremony helps to make the change from our time to G-d’s holy time. I encourage you to do this. A woman living alone or one that is the only Messianic Believer in her household can still do this. The Bible gives no concrete directions about it – but only states we are to keep Shabbat. The two candles stand for “Observe” and “Keep”. It’s a great feeling to know you are doing what can to show yourself and others that G-d’s special holy day is just that!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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