Freedom, Law, and American Independence

Here is a message from my friend, Pastor Joe Fuiten of Cedar Park Church:

Dear Friends,

As a Pastor, I make it a point to preach at least one message a year that reflects what I am thinking about America. Below is the message that is on my heart for this year, and which I’d like to share with you in celebration of our “Freedom, Law, and American Independence”. I hope you have a wonderful July 4th holiday.

I will be spending the holiday in Medical Lake at Silver Lake Camp. If you happen to live in the Spokane area, we would be honored if you joined us. The public is welcome each night for the 7pm service, including Friday, the final night, when I will be preaching a message entitled “America in Bible Prophecy.” It’s a great camp! I hope to see you there!

Yours for the Kingdom,
Pastor Joe

Freedom, Law, and American Independence

By Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten
June 29, 2008 Sermon Notes

It is a confusing time for many Conservative Christians in America because our long-held consensus is rapidly breaking down.

The number of Christians who can apply their faith to matters of public policy is rapidly shrinking, if we are to believe the most recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public life. “Relatively few adults (14%) cite their religious beliefs as the main influence on their political thinking – about the same number as cite their education as being most important (13%). Far more cite their personal experience (34%) as being most important in shaping their political views. An additional 19% identify what they see or read in the media as the most important influence in shaping their political views.”[1]

This bodes badly for the future of America as we have known it. In World War II, on the eve of the D-Day invasion, Franklin Roosevelt led the nation in prayer where he identified the success of the war with preserving “our religion.” Sixty years later, no American president would say we have a religion, let alone lead us in prayer for its preservation.

Virtually every aspect of our civilization is rooted in the application of Christian ideas.Last year I preached a two part message called “Christianity the Uplifting Force of Civilization.” [2] I showed what the application of our Christian faith has meant to the role of women and the family. I showed how it transformed health care, science, education, economics, and even our concepts of freedom. All these things are now at risk. They are at risk because Christianity in general, and evangelicalism in particular, is becoming increasingly anemic.

A majority (57%) of Evangelicals now believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.More than two-thirds of adults affiliated with a religious tradition agree that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their faith, a pattern that occurs in nearly all traditions.” Fully 83% of mainline church members believe this.”[3]

These survey results essentially mean that truth has been lost to most religious people including Evangelicals. With truth lost, the things that rest upon those truths will also ultimately be lost. It may take a generation or two but when the foundation is lost so ultimately is the building.

Christians today are not what their fathers were. The God of our Fathers is not their God. As a consequence, Christians today will not be able to produce what their fathers produced. We might still be able to say the words “Fourscore and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” but we now lack the spiritual discernment and intellectual ideas to conceive a nation in liberty.

Yale historian Harry S. Stout wrote an article in Christian History magazine titled, “Christianity and the American Revolution”. Here is what he said about America at the time of the Revolution:

Over the span of the colonial era, American ministers delivered approximately 8 million sermons, each lasting one to one-and-a-half hours. The average 70-year-old colonial churchgoer would have listened to some 7,000 sermons in his or her lifetime, totaling nearly 10,000 hours of concentrated listening. This is the number of classroom hours it would take to receive ten separate undergraduate degrees in a modern university, without ever repeating the same course!

Events were perceived not from the mundane, human vantage point but from God’s. The vast majority of colonists were Reformed or Calvinist, to whom things were not as they might appear at ground level: all events, no matter how mundane or seemingly random, were parts of a larger pattern of meaning, part of God’s providential design.

The outlines of this pattern were contained in Scripture and interpreted by discerning pastors. – [Today] taxation and representation are political and constitutional issues, having nothing to do with religion. But to eighteenth-century ears, attuned to lifetimes of preaching, the issues were inevitably religious as well.

When understood in its own times, the American Revolution was first and foremost a religious event.[4]

If the founding of the country was “a religious event” the continuation of the country has become a non-religious, even an anti-religious event. The words of the Apostle Paul come to mind: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”[5]

Too many Christians today can no longer see the connection between America and the cause of Christ. The smoke and haze of the battle have obscured their view of the battlefield. They no longer see America as something special in the plans of God.

Given the extraordinarily strong Christian faith expressed in our founding, our forefathers secured for America the blessing of God for three or four generations. Even today, we have a large percentage of Christians who serve God. I don’t know another nation on earth who would have more than we have. We have been blessed, that is easy enough to see. Such blessing is an indication of purpose. To whom much is given, much is required.

If we are indeed on the wrong track as a country, and are being undone, what is the cause of this problem? I would suggest that we have adopted a very un-American, and un-Christian view of freedom.

D. Elton Trueblood wrote, “Freedom is our holy cow. Everyone believes in freedom, just as everyone is against sin, but the meaning is far from clear. Who is opposed to freedom? Nobody!”

The current generation of Americans has changed the definition of freedom and then exaggerated the emphasis upon freedom. America in particular and the West in general, are rapidly descending into political chaos under the flag of personal freedom. In the past four centuries, we have gone from John Donne’s “no man is an island” to Libertarianism’s and Liberalism’s “every man is an island.”

The Libertarian Party, founded in 1972 in America, is a classic illustration. Libertarianism as a classic political philosophy is reasonable enough. It stresses the rights of the individual and the very Lockian ideas that we each own ourselves and have the right to apply our labor to Nature and extract ownership of land and property in that way. Historically, they have opposed any kind of taxation and government interference in the economy. There is a darker side to this. It is instructive that American anarchists in the 1800′s were the champions of Libertarianism.

John Locke and Liberty

The man most responsible for the advance of liberty in the West was John Locke. His work, On Civil Government, stood as a decisive guide, not just in his homeland of England, but in the emergence of the United States of America. He wrote the work as a kind of defense of the English Civil War and Revolution culminating in 1689.

In the great rebellion of that period, for the first time in England and in the history of the West, the king was firmly challenged in a sustained revolt resulting in a constitutional and representative government grounded in a legislature backed by private citizens who were politically active. Locke provided the spiritual reasoning and political cover for this rebellion.

Across the ocean in the colonies of America, the preachers began to read and preach Locke’s principles. In many ways they preached Locke as though his writings were the fifth gospel. In doing so, the preachers laid the spiritual and political foundation for the American Revolution and Republic. It was Locke who penned the phrase “Life, Liberty, and Property.”

A few years later, Thomas Jefferson, in writing the Declaration of Independence, would only slightly modify the phrase to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” However, Jefferson’s meaning mirrored Locke’s. For both men, there was a Creator behind the process who granted life and liberty and who was sovereign over man and king.

The meaning assigned to those famous words has dramatically changed since they were written. In fact, the meaning has been so dramatically changed that they now mean almost the opposite of what their authors intended. Consider what John Locke actually wrote in his treatise, On Civil Government:

“The natural Liberty of Man is to be free from any Superior Power on Earth, and not to be under the Will or Legislative Authority of Man, but to have only the Law of Nature for his Rule. The Liberty of Man, in Society, is to be under no other Legislative Power, but that established by consent in the Common-wealth, nor under the Dominion of any Will, or Restraint of any Law, but what the Legislative shall enact according to the trust put in it.

Freedom is not what Sir R. F. tells us “A liberty for every one to do what he wants, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied to any Laws.” But Freedom of Men under Government, is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the Legislative power erected in it. A liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule does not prescribe, and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man.”

In Locke’s vision, the natural liberty of man is to have only the “law of nature for his rule.” The term “Law of Nature,” had a precise meaning to Locke. God created the world, which Locke called Nature, and placed man in that world. As man worked, he came to own a piece of Nature, making it his own. The “Law of Nature” is that Law which has been established by Nature’s God. Natural Law is the rule of God. In contrast to natural liberty, Locke posed the liberty of man in society.

Liberty in society meant that man would not be governed by the arbitrary authority of a monarch. Instead, the only restraint that could be put on natural liberty was that restraint placed there by the consent of the governed expressed in a lawful legislature. For Locke, if the people elected a legislature and the legislature passed laws according to the trust placed in them to govern, this was not a restriction upon liberty.

Locke absolutely denied the libertarian vision of things which was then being expressed by someone that he calls Sir R. F. Liberty is NOT the freedom from laws or authority. For Locke, liberty is not the absence of governmental laws or legislative rules.

Freedom, or liberty, had a very specific meaning. There were several components to freedom:

Freedom required a standing rule. It could not flow from a new decision of one person, namely the monarch, or from a new rule of the group. To be a standing rule, it had to be in place before it could be violated. The rule had to be established and published before it could take effect.
Freedom required that the laws apply equally to every person. There could not be one set of rules for the King and another for the commoner, or one for the rich and another for the poor.

The rule had to be written and have been decided by the legislature. It could not be arbitrary or decided by the King alone.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” In the language of the Bible, to be free is to come under the rule of Christ. “You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” This biblical concept of freedom is acceptable to Locke as the definition of liberty.

Locke derived his ideas from the Bible. What he wrote was a further development of Paul’s ideas. Remember, to be legitimate, the rule had to be a standing rule, and apply equally to all. In Lockian terms, the rule of Christ is legitimate because the subjects have agreed to be governed by these rules. James, the brother of Jesus, would certainly agree. He described God’s law as, “…the perfect law that gives freedom.”.

Modern Americans, including Christians, have changed our concept of freedom under law to freedom without law. We cannot stand on marriage between a man and a woman because too many Christians think homosexuals should be free — free to marry and free to violate God’s law. If left with only one alternative, the modern Christian abandons God’s law in favor of the anarchy which is what “freedom” is becoming.

[1] Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life / U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, June 2008.
[2] http://www.cedarpark.org/resources/media/html.php?id=96
[3] Pew cited above
[4] Elesha Coffman, editor of Christian History Magazine, quoting from Vol 50 of that publication.
[5] Galatians 3:3, NIV.

Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten is the senior pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington, and he is the former president of Positive Christian Agenda. Currently, Pastor Fuiten serves on the Board of Directors for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an associate organization of Focus on the Family.

See you next time Have a safe 4th and stay cool!!!!

Shalom, Sharaka

Ten Commandments Concerning Elderly Disabled Persons

1. Put things back when you visit.
Everything needs to be in its place.  It’s too hard to have to hunt for something.

2. Keep the doors as you found them.
If a door is shut, make sure it is SHUT when you leave that room. If the door is OPEN when you
get there – make sure it stays open. This includes all cupboard doors. There is always a reason.

3. Call first if you want to visit.
It may be a bad day and it’s too hard to put up a front – or there may be other visitors and too
many at once is not good.

4. Looking for a gift?
Your time is always the best gift. Offer to take them to lunch, a ride in the country, to a near-by
body of water, window shopping at a mall or a favorite place. Spend quality time, asking questions
about their early life, work or war experiences, hobbies or interests. If you must purchase some
thing, make it disposable. Candles, if they would be appreciated and can be used safely, perfumes,   aftershaves,  good quality lotions, healthy food items, a subscription to their favorite newspaper or magazine. A plant. Put some thought into it and you will come up with something good!

5. Ask them what they need help with.
Do their faucets leak?  Do they need their laundry done? The carpet cleaned? The windows washed? The front porch swept? Be prepared to receive a “no” answer, but persist. They may be too embarrassed to accept your help but need it very badly.

6. When you telephone, ask if they are busy.
They may be watching a favorite TV program or have company.  They probably spend long hours alone and have established a certain routine that is rude to make them break.

7. Allow them to retain their dignity.
Be sure not to talk “down” to them or act as if they aren’t up to par mentally. They may not be, but try to ignore it and carry on a normal conversation, speaking clearly and in a bit louder tone if the person appears to be a little hard of hearing.

8. Remember each day can be different and must be treated as such.
One must “play it by ear” when you come to visit. Sometimes they will be exhausted or ill. Don’t stay too long unless specifically invited to do so.

9. It may be beneficial to play “remember when…” if you are a close friend or family member.
That will draw a person out of themselves and bring a smile as they look back on better days.

10. Take pictures/videos – with permission – and make sure to send them a copy.

Give them pictures of your self and/or your family. Encourage them to write their memoirs.
Tape or video their stories, you’ll be so glad to see them and hear their voices after they are
long gone.

Enjoy the old folks while you have them.

See you next time,

Shalom, Sharaka

Memorial Day 2008 ~ A Time to Remember

Seventy years have given me a lot of memories. Disabled, with lots of time on my hands, I sit here in my LaZboy in Seattle, thinking about my beloved hometown in the shadow of the Rockies. I remember our little house next to Foster’s Garage on the corner of Lincoln and Victory Way across from the Fairgrounds. It had that awful fake-brick siding on it but it was home. It was torn down in the late 70s, I believe, and some kind of a Trading Post was built there which eventually burned. The last time we were there in 1991 it was a vacant lot. Wonder what’s there now.

A.V. Spurgin, my grandfather, moved his family into town from Elk Springs in Badger Valley in 1933.  My mother, Alberta, married Ed Julian four years later. We lived next door to my grandparents’ until my folks split up and we left town. I continued to return to Craig every summer to stay with my grandparents. We went to the Congregational Church where Mr. Best pastored. He was my hero! He came from England, wore a black three piece suit, smoked a big black cigar, and always carried candy in the glove compartment of his car for little children. He never had a wife or kids of his own but loved children. He taught the Nursery Class on Sunday mornings and held a service in Maybell on Sunday afternoons.

I remember a lot about Craig. The people were wonderful and I had loads of friends. We watched the mail train come in from Denver in the late afternoon and waited for the mail to be sorted so we could walk downtown to the post office for our mail. We talked to everybody on the way. You could smell popcorn coming from the ‘new’ drug store next to the post office. Sometimes I even got to buy some.  Craig was a small piece of Americana where people loved God, country and each other. I’m proud to have been born in such a place.

When my grandfather passed away in 1948, we couldn’t afford a tombstone but my mother vowed to come back one day and erect one. The cemetery above Dead Man’s curve was just a big dirt and weed field. In the summer of 1976, my mother and stepfather, my husband and four children and I came to finally get the tombstone.  I was horrified when Mother told us her plans. She wanted to MAKE a tombstone for grandpa’s grave! She insisted on pouring cement in a cardboard box with the bottom taken out. I couldn’t believe it! I argued against it but she finally won me over. She said her Dad was a cowboy, born in the 1800s and many of his contemporaries were buried beside the trail. She just knew he would want something simple and home made.  We did it! It was hard to keep the cement from drying too quickly in the July heat and a big crack streaked diagonally through the piece. I wrote grandpa’s name, A. V. Spurgin, with a stick and drew his cattle brand. Bar-S-rafter.  (reading from the bottom up) Then I lined the edges with small pretty stones and signed my fjc in the corner.

The last time I got to Craig was in May of 1991. We were there for Memorial Day. It seemed like the whole town had a giant yard sale and all the stores had sidewalk sales. There was a big parade through town ending at the cemetery. No longer a field of weeds, it was well maintained with statuary and nicely manicured lawns. Grandpa’s “stone” was still there. I wonder how many of the townspeople have ever noticed it.  To my astonishment, I saw that everyone had picnic lunches and they sat on their family tombstones to eat them. Children scampered here and there and a great time was had by all. Then a detail of ancient veterans marched in carrying flags. Some had parts of their uniforms on. Some had only a hat, but they stood tall and proud and made me proud to remember the America of my youth. The America that cared so much about their soldier boys that large stars hung on the doors of the homes who had a son in the War. ( WWII ) Blue for still living ones and Gold for the ones who never made it back. My Uncle Hubert A. Spurgin and my father, Harry Edward Julian, both came home. On this Memorial Day, my last in Craig, the names of all those who had lost their lives in battle were read aloud and we enjoyed a patriotic program. I hope this tradition continues and Craig is still the same warm, wonderful, caring city of my past. God bless her.

Happy Memorial Day!
See you next time!

Shalom, Sharaka

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

Do the Math!

The Bible says, “Come let us reason together.”  So let’s do that.

We know Y’shua (Jesus) wasn’t in the tomb on Sunday morning. But when did He die?

The church believes Y’shua (Jesus) was crucified on a Friday. They get this from John 19:31 where it is mentioned they wanted to remove Y’shua’s body before the Sabbath. The church assumes the Bible means the weekly Sabbath (Shabbat/Saturday).  The Bible states:  “31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day),……….”   I believe what the Bible says, not what somebody made up.

Y’shua was crucified on Passover, which had to have been on a Wednesday that year. The Roman Church under Constantine, degreed the first Sunday after the first full moon after the 21st of March, which is the Spring equinox is “Easter”.  This is the English name of “Ishtar”, the Babylonian goddess of fertility. That’s why there are eggs and bunnies – symbols of fertility. The Roman holiday of Ishtar has what to do with Y’shua’s death and resurrection?  The Bible plainly tells us exactly when Passover is and three days later came the Resurrection?  Mark 14:16-17 tells us: “16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover. 17 In the evening He came with the twelve.”   After the Seder (the Passover meal) was eaten, Y’shua went to the Garden with His disciples and there was betrayed by Judas. He was taken, beaten, sent to a mock trial, condemned to die, put on the cross, died, was buried – all in the same 24 hours.

He had to be taken down from the cross before sunset that night because the day after Passover is a high Sabbath. It is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Every holy day, each day that G-d calls a Sabbath, is a high Sabbath – and not the weekly or seventh day Sabbath. See Leviticus 23 for all the Holy Days. G-d’s days – Biblical days – begin, not at midnight, but at sunset. Genesis 1:5 says: “And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

Y’shua was hurriedly placed in the tomb just minutes before sunset. If He died at 3 PM, and they had to go “beg the body” from Pilot, get it to the tomb, wrap it in strips of linen with 75-100 pounds of myrrh and aloes first (see John 19:39-40) it would have been a race with the sun to get Him into the tomb by sunset. Mark 15:33-37 states: “33 Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. …… 37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.”  The ninth hour is 3 PM. Wednesday ended at sunset. Thursday began at sunset. Y’shua said He would be in the grave three nights and three days. Thursday would be the first night and day that He spent in the tomb. Friday would be the second night and day. Saturday would be the third night and day. Just minutes before sunset on Saturday (Shabbat) would be the full three nights and three days!  That’s when He said He would rise from the grave. And he did!   Do the math…     If He didn’t do what He said – He would be a liar. I don’t think so. Do the math…

How can you get three nights and three days from Friday to Sunday?  It ain’t ever gonna happen!
Just do the math.

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 God. 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 God 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.

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

God 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.

God 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 believe this or not.)

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

See you next time! Sharaka

Chanukah – Re-visited

“Shalom, favored one!” Gavri’el came to Miriam and proclaimed. “Don’t be afraid, for you have found favor with God. Look! You will become with Child; you will give birth to a Son and you are to name Him Y’shua. He will be great, He will be called the Son of HaElyon, Adonai – God …”
Luke 1:30-32 in David Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible

So Mary learned from G-d’s messenger, Gabriel, that she was chosen to be the human mother of Y’shua, the Light of the World. Did this historic happening occur on the Feast of Dedication/Feast of Lights as it is called in John 10:22?

We believe it did!

And so He was conceived on Kislev 25 (on the Jewish calendar) which occurs in the month of December.
We (Messianics) celebrate the incarnation of the Holy One at this time of year. His conception – not His birth. According to Scripture, He was then born nine months later on the first day of Sukkot, commonly called the Feast of Tabernacles, which occurs on Tishrei 15 on the Jewish calendar.

These are G-d’s dates given in Leviticus 23. G-d’s Holy Word is a Jewish book, written by Jews, with one exception, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. It was first written to Jews and later extended to include Gentiles. Y’shua was – and still is – a Jewish rabbi and He will return as a Jewish rabbi. If you celebrate His conception or don’t, it’s not nearly as important as believing Gabriel’s report and myriads of saints and martyrs who have given their lives to say, “I believe!”

The most important thing you can do in your whole life is to believe that Y’shua HaMashiach, or Jesus, the Christ, was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and that He became G-d in the flesh to live in this sinful world and to die for our sin so that we might forever live with Him. Give Him first place in your life and let Him live – dwell – tabernacle – forever with you.

G-d bless you and give you His shalom!

See you next time!                                                                                                                                                                               Shalom, SHARAKA

originally written 12/2002

The Cycle of Life

My thumbs are a beautiful shade of brown! Both of them. I can’t make a weed grow.  BUT I have succeeded in growing one thing. A few years ago … maybe five or six … I was given a lovely basket arrangement of plants. An African violet was among them. Everything else died. I tried. I really tried, but one by one they faded away. I put the little deep purpled jewel in my kitchen window sill where it continued to flourish.

Grandma raised African violets, among hundreds of other plants, inside and out. She taught me to NEVER get water on the leaves, as that would cause spotting and eventual leaf rot – or something like that.  She fed them with some kind of special African violet fertilizer, who knows what it was. All I know is they were gorgeous and bloomed all the time. She had lots of them. She had lots of everything. Once she broke off a long stick to prop up another plant she had just put in the ground. Would you believe the stick took root and lived longer than she did?

Meanwhile back on my window sill – the African violet continued to grow. Several years passed. I tried to remember to water it often ’cuz Grandma said the soil should never dry out.  Sometimes when I was in a hurry, I wasn’t real careful about where the water went and some leaves got lots of drips.  Wonder of wonders – they never turned white or brown or dead looking. They just kept on growing!  Must be a new breed of violets these days.  Every once in a while I would notice a leaf had dried up or was in the process of it and I would snip it off. But more often than not, there would be new leaves coming on. More than the ones that died.

A month or so ago, I noticed my plant had outgrown its pot, and it appeared to have become two plants. I asked one of my grandsons, Danny, to divide and replant them. He did. They looked a little droopy for about a week in their new pots, but after that they perked up and now I can see tiny new leaves on both plants. The “old” one is full of bloom.

Today as I stood observing them, I noticed on the older plant that one of the more mature leaves has turned brown and is definitely on the way out.  I haven’t had the heart to snip it off yet. There is still a little life there.

I see my family there in those violets – and yours. If you feed and water and follow directions to the best of your ability, even if you mess up at times, you will be successful. The day will come when there has to be a division.  The old homestead is just too small. Everything might look a little droopy for a while but as everyone gets used to the change and it becomes more natural, things will perk up.  Soon there will be new growth – new life comes.  And then there is the natural progression of life. One of the older leaves will begin to lose it’s color and start to  droop. It’s a long process but eventually the leaf just withers away and is gone.

This is happening at our house right now.  Our four children have all started homes of their own. We have 12 grandchildren and 2 and a half great grandchildren.  Some new growth, huh?  They make beautful blooms that bring so much joy to the heart.  My husband has been ill for several years now. His great tired heart is winding down and he will soon join his Creator, the Master Gardner and his cycle of life will be complete.  It won’t be long.

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

What Lies Ahead?

What a beautiful day! A few white, lazy, clouds drift above, strolling along through the heavens, watching over G-D’s creation and enjoying the view. Magnificent scenery on both sides of the newly paved highway beg for attention. So much to see – the hours just fly by. You have a song in your heart and the lyrics keep repeating themselves as you tap out the beat on the steering wheel. Not a care in the world and you are so thankful to your heavenly Father for the wonderful trip you are on.

Suddenly the road turns and quickly narrows to a country lane – a gravel road – and the forest of cedar and vine maple thins out to scrubby patches of undergrowth. The skies seem to darken a bit and the powder puff clouds give way to a buttermilk sky. What on earth? The chuck holes get deeper and the car bounces crazily up and down and side to side and starts making “transmission trouble” noises. There are no signs of civilization as far as you can see. What could have happened? There was no hint of this on your map. This can’t be right!

“Oh, G-d! Please help me!”, you cry. “Please don’t let me break down here in this wilderness!” What happened to your song? What has happened to the warm cozy feeling down deep in your soul? The car gives one last grumble and slows to a bumpy stop. You have no idea what to do. Remembering vaguely what your brother said about opening the hood, you pull the little lever and watch as the hood flips up. Well, that’s a good thing! Now what? You don’t even know what you are looking for and your eyes dart over the unfamiliar jumble of wires and assorted mysterious black objects.

“Father, please help me. I have no idea what to do and it’s getting darker and darker. I can’t DO this!” After a few more minutes of searching for some thing that “doesn’t look right” all to no avail, you slam down the hood and crawl back into the car. More praying, more whining, more trying your best to figure out what to do – and then comes a quiet revelation that G-d is still on the throne and no matter what – all is right with the world! You are NOT alone! You know He loves you and cares about what is happening to you. You cuddle into the blanket that you always keep in the back seat, and are thankful for its warmth and soon you begin to relax and talk to the Lord with a calm assurance. You remind Him that you are so aware of His promise never to leave you or forsake you. You remember the many times He has watched over you and kept you from harm. You begin to praise Him and repeat some of the Bible verses you have committed to memory. Soon you are asking forgiveness for some of the spiteful things you said earlier that day to your family. Sleep begins to pull on your eyelids and you snuggle further down in the blanket as you begin to say the Shemah.  (Deut 6:4-9)
Sunshine and birdsong grab your attention and you realize you have slept all night in this place. With a thankful heart, you fold up your blanket, return it to its spot on the backseat and step out of the car to stretch your legs. After a short walk, breathing in the fresh morning air, you decide to try the ignition again, not sure of what may happen. Wonder of wonders! It purrs and seems to feel a little sheepish about its bad behavior the night before. Creeping ahead, you say another prayer of thanksgiving and guide ’ol Betsy through the maze of dirt and gravel.

Soon the sun has risen enough to take the chill out of the air and you notice you are leaving the scrub country. The road is not so rough anymore. Looks like smooth sailing ahead! Might be a great trip after all! A roadside café appears in the distance and you’re sure you can smell that coffee already. You finish a hefty plate of hotcakes and eggs and start off once more on your homeward journey, confident that the King of kings and Lord of lords is right there beside you and nothing will happen that He can’t handle.

You don’t know about the rickety, narrow bridge that will wobble and groan beneath your car right around the next corner. You can’t see the sharp cliffs that fall below on both sides of your car, and with no guardrail, that you will experience not too far ahead. You couldn’t even begin to imagine the shock and horror you will feel when you come upon a fatal accident and there is no one there but YOU to take care of it. But in between those times, there is beauty and grandeur and you proceed, full speed ahead with a heart of love and awe at what G-d has created.

Isn’t that just like our lives? We fly along, laughing and singing in wild abandonment only to be yanked up short with one horrific problem after another. This is life on our planet. Maturity brings the assurance that G-d, indeed, is still on His throne and all’s right with the world – no matter what. Just keep your eye on your destination and what ever mishaps occur along life’s way will only serve to make you stronger and Home will be the sweeter for it!

See you next time!
Happy trails!

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

Miss Mulligan

In the spring of 1986, we brought home a long awaited poodle puppy. It was St. Patrick’s Day and because of that and the fact that she was red – we named her Miss Mulligan. I once wrote a paper about Miss Mulligan, the dog that owned our house and allowed us to live there … That tells it all. We had her 14 years and five months. She lies buried across the driveway at our house, guarded by an elegant swan. I miss her to this day. She taught us things we will never forget.

Below is a poem “we” wrote.

A Warm ‘Thank You’ By Miss Mulligan as told to Sharaka.


One hot summer day in an old Montana town.
A kindly old vet, the nicest one around,
Pulled a nasty ol’ tick right outa my head!
“There’l be no charge,” he smiled and said.

My folks were as pleased as they could be,
And we headed back home – my folks and me.
Well, the days slipped by and summer turned to fall.
Years went on but we remembered it all!

Doc Joe knew his cattle and his horses, too.
But one little creature he never knew.
It wasn’t any insect or any kind of bug -
It’s an odd little thing – a Washington slug!

We found a wooden one and sent it on it’s way,
To give him a smile and brighten up his day.
We wanted to thank him one more time
And say, “ God bless you! Friend of mine.”

Alas, we had jes’ waited too long,
And Old Doc Joe had up and gone!
He wasn’t there and no one seemed to know
Just where the kindly old doc did go.

Now he’ll never know how much that I
Thought of him and I’ll never know why
He did such a kind deed for little ol’ me.
We should have sent that slug, you see!

I’ll never forget him ‘til the end of my days!
And I really know now that it always pays
To send a ‘thank you’ right away before
Your friend goes off right out the door!

Make a list of people you would like to thank for some kind favor, or just because you care. Send letters to them and don’t forget to do such acts of kindness in return. You may never know what a blessing you are!

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

House cleaning for Passover?

Where to Start?

House in trouble? Don’t know where to start? Take a tip from everybody’s friend, the FlyLady! Flylady.com (and she’s a Believer!) If you are like most of us housewives …. Guys, you can benefit from this, too! … you want everything to look nice but the housework just seems to get away from you. So much to do – so little time!!!

I’ve created a new habit for myself – just for starters. If you do this consistently, you will be on your way to a cleaner house.

Don’t you hate to be at a nice restaurant, go into the Ladies’ Room or Men’s Room, as the case may be, and find a sink all spotted with water and soap scum here and there? Well, you really don’t want to face the same condition at home, do you?

Here’s whatcha do – every time you use a sink in your house, finish up with a paper towel or whatever you use, and wipe up your sink. Get rid of water spots, soap scum and polish the Faucet! Make your sink look like new. Soon, with a little encouragement, your family will begin to do the same. When you have a beautiful shiny sink, the counters will look so much better if you remove all the unnecessary clutter and wipe them down, too. Before you know it your whole kitchen and bathroom will be a thing of beauty! At the very least, your sinks will sparkle and you will feel a whole lot better about yourself! Just try it for a week and see. Would ya? Passover’s coming!!!!

See you next time!

Shalom, Sharaka

My favorite Purim recipe

Hamentashen

1 3/4 cups (250 g) flour
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 or 3 drops vanilla flavoring
1 egg yolk
2 – 3 teaspoons of milk if needed

1 egg, beaten, for glazing
(Let dough cool while you make filling)
For Mohn filling (poppy seed)

1 cup (150 g) poppy seeds
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons raisins
Grated zest of 1 lemon (peeling)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Simmer (cook) the seeds and milk 15 minutes or until thick. Add raisins, honey, sugar and butter. Cook 5 more minutes. Add lemon zest and juice.
Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar.
Add butter in small pieces (I grate hard butter) and mix together until it looks like cornmeal. It is much like making pie crust.
Add Egg yolk and vanilla and lightly stir into a ball. Don’t mix it too much.
Add milk if needed to make it stick together.
Don’t handle too much or the dough will be tough.

Cover with plastic and cool in refrigerator.

Make filling. Can use apricot jam or prune filling.

Roll dough fairly thin. Cut with 3 inch cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet.
Put small amount of filling in the center of each cookie and fold up 3 edges, leaving the filling showing in the center. Make sure edges stick together.

Brush beaten egg on tops and sides of each cookie.

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

This recipe comes from “The Book of Jewish Food”, by Claudia Rodin

Copyright 1996, published by Universities International Press, Inc

See you next time! – Purim sameach!
Shalom, Sharaka

Where are you on the “River of Life?”

The River of Life

When my husband and I visited Minnesota many years ago, we went to see the beginning of the Mississippi River. I remember jumping across it. I wanted to be able to say, “I crossed the mighty Mississippi with a single bound!” It was just a tiny little trickle of water – who would ever guess that the Mighty Mississippi, which begins as a tiny brook and 2350 miles later and empties into the Gulf of Mexico, would be 5 inches wide at it’s beginning?

“Along the way it acts as a watershed for over 1.2 million square miles and includes tributary rivers from 32 states and two Canadian provinces. The Ojibway Indians of northern Minnesota called it “Messipi” or “Big River,” and it was also known as the “Mee-zee-see-bee” or the “Father of Waters.”

Another great river – the Columbia, drains a 259,000-square-mile basin that includes territory in seven states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah) and one Canadian province.

It flows for 1,243 miles, from two lakes that lie near the Canadian Continental Divide, to the Pacific Ocean between Washington and Oregon.

You must know that there are miles and miles of tiny streams, brooks and tributaries all flowing in to one great body of water.

Believers are like that!  We are all in the water, but we are NOT all at the same place at the same time.  A new Believer starts like a tiny stream and the further and faster it goes, the bigger it gets! A person who has been a Believer for many, many years is way further “down river”.

You can’t expect someone only a year old in the Lord to have the knowledge and understanding that a 30 year Believer has.  We must learn to be patient with those we minister to and try not to push them or make them uncomfortable with the way their “walk” is going. We need to pray for them and be a gentle guide, not a “stern taskmaster”. After all, look what G-d has had to put up with in the way we are growing! Sometimes it seems like one step forward and two steps back. But with His love and our love and knowing that “love covers a multitude of sins” we (Believers) will all end up in G-d’s great ocean called the Olam Haba – the World to come!
See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

About Purim …

When the Jews were in captivity in Persia, about 500 BC, (says Ussher) the story of the Book of Esther takes place. Esther is a Persian or Babylonian name – Hadasseh was her Jewish real name! She was beautiful in spirit as well as body – truly a Proverbs 31 woman. The celebration of deliverance told here has become known as the Biblical holiday of Purim. Pur means die/lot as in lottery. Purim or dice is the plural. It was decided by the wicked Hamen to kill all the Jews. Lots were cast to see when that should happen. The Book of Esther, all ten chapters, are read by the Jewish people on the anniversary of the first celebration, Adar 14, which comes in early spring. It’s a very important day for Christians, also, because if the wicked Haman had carried out his threat to annihilate all Jews, the Messiah would have never been born. The kingdom of Ahashvarosh covered over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia, which was the known world at that time. No Jew is all the world was to be spared! Haman, the Agagite, was decended from the Edomite (Esau) people who have always been enemies of the Jews. King Saul was ordered to wipe them out and he failed. King Herod, in the time of Christ, was from this line. Mordecai and Hadasseh, who were from the Benjamites – same tribe as Saul, finally did it generations later. The history of the Bible is also unfulfilled prophesy. Haman is a picture of the False Messiah and he and his ten sons were destroyed just as Christians believe the anti-Christ or False Messiah and his ten heads (governments) will be destroyed someday.

Moral: Don’t mess with God’s people!

Why not get the family together and take turns reading the Book of Esther? Have a party! Dress up like the characters! Make it fun – whistle and cheer when you read Esther’s name.

Boo and hiss, make lots of noise and stamp your feet when you read the name of Haman.

Cheer for the name of Mordechai. You learn a lot more when you read the whole book at once. It’s the only Book that does not mention the name of God and was almost not included in the Bible for this reason.

A pastry treat called “Hamantashen” – a filled cookie – is served and it’s a fun time for everyone. At our house we have a life-sized cardboard box made to sorta look like “Wicked Haman” with an open mouth. We play a game throwing bagels in his mouth to see who can get the most points. Purim is about friends, kinship and community, strong bonds that last a lifetime, about remembering, and about our salvation. It’s a great time for remembering the provision God has made for us through His grace and faithfulness; a time Jews and Christians alike can celebrate the goodness of our God.

Baruch hashem Adonai – Blessed be the name of the Lord! Chag Sameach! – Have a happy Purim! – March 14, 2006

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

Purim II

Hadasseh, the Beautiful

Esther, named after Ashterah, a goddess of that country, was the Persian or Babylonian name of the Jewish captive. Hadasseh was her Hebrew name. She was a beautiful young girl with a character, I imagine, to be somewhat like that of Miryam, the mother of Y’shua. God had chosen them both for a very special purpose in life and they both met the challenge. We would do well to imitate these attributes. Esther was an orphan raised by her cousin, Mordecai. She was his uncle’s daughter but the Bible calls him her uncle (?). He must have cared for her very much as no mention is made of any other family members and he seemed devoted to her.
This book was written about events which take place over a 10 year period. 483 – 473 BC. It is the only record we have of Jewish life in Babylon/Persia/now Iran. The events occur between the 6th and 7th chapters of Ezra – which is between the two ‘returns’ to Israel. The first being led by Zerubbabel and the second by Ezra. Some scholars believe Ezra wrote the book, others opt for Mordecai himself, but most now believe it was by one of his younger contemporaries.
Ahasuerus is a Hebrew name; Xerxes – the Greek name of Khshayarsh, the Persian king. He has also been referred to as Ahashverosh – whoever he was, he was certainly a man of emotional extremes, whose actions were often strange and contradictory. These Jewish people he ruled over were not even supposed to be in Persia. They should have gone home to Israel with Zerubbabel. It was a case of comfort and ease. They made good livings in this civilized place – why go back to rocks and ruin? The meat of the story is in Chapters 9 and 10 and we will read that next. Here is a little of the history and customs of the Jews concerning Purim. Two things we can learn today for sure! The name of the wicked Amalakite is pronounced “HAH-man” and we eat the filled cookie “Hamantashchen” which means Haman’s hats. It is not Hay-man. The other is the name of the festival itself. “Poo-REEM”, which rhymes with “who cream” and not Pure-rim or even poo-rim. Having become so educated – let’s see how this thing is celebrated.

Purim, an extra-Mosaic Festival
This festival was not ordered by God but by Mordecai and there are Four Main ways to celebrate:

(1) The reading of the Megillah, (the whole Book of Esther) the Hallel (song of praise) of the day. Singing and dancing and praising the Lord are the order of the day. Once again God has given Y’shua (salvation) to the Jews. Once again God acted at just the right time!
(2) Festivity and Rejoicing: partaking of scrumptious foods and extending “Yom Tov” (good day greetings to one another. We have reason to celebrate, so let’s do it with gusto!
(3) Giving of gifts to one another. This is called “Mishloach Manot”. It must consist of sweets or other ready-to-eat-edibles and a drink and it is given to display your love and good-will. Gifts of clothing or money are NOT acceptable. Little baskets or attractive packages – even paper plates, can be fixed up to give.
(4) Sending of Gifts to the Poor. It is a custom to send two portions for the poor. In ancient days, a portion meant three halves of the basis of the currency. In our day, that would mean $1.50. Our basic currency is $1.00 so this is three halves. Two portions would be $3.00. That amount could be given for the poor. Together, that could add up! But the main thing is – we are to give to the poor. This contribution is made in remembrance of the 1/2 shekel given by the Israelites when the Temple still stood. The half-shekel is now being made in Israel again as we get closer to a new Temple.

This festival is a time of National pride – pride in Israel and pride in our true home – the Kingdom of God! We are only visitors here – this is not our home! Praise God! We can resist conforming to thi

A word about disguises:

It is customary to wear disguises on Purim. Esther was disguised. Her true identity was not revealed until it was necessary. Please consider at least a mask and/or a hat!

Yom Tov! See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

The Olympics and C S Lewis

The 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy are winding down.

Every time the Games are on, it seems most of the world is held captive by them. So much money – so much hype! I have never liked them and I had no idea why. Since they were originated in Greece —– I considered them “Hellenistic”! Not a good thing for the Jews …Neither have I read the “Chronicles of Narnia” or any of C S Lewis’ other books. This post I received from a friend seems to hold the answer. If you are an admirer of the above, I apologize, but I still hold my opinion. I will leave you to yours. Please bear with me on this one and ask the Lord for truth.

The Olympics and C S Lewis
By Berit Kjos

“During the ancient Olympic Games in Greece, a sacred flame burned at the altar of Zeus, in whose honor the Games were held. Its lighting signaled the opening of the Games, and its extinguishing signaled their end…. The flame itself is lit during a ceremony at the site of the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia…. Women dressed in robes similar to those worn by the ancient Greeks use a curved mirror to light the torch naturally with rays of the sun. The high priestess then presents the torch to the first relay runner.”[1]
C. S. Lewis would have loved the Olympics. Its roots sank deep into the ancient mythology that had captivated his heart. Long after he chose to believe the Bible was true (1931), he continued to justify pagan myths as precursor to the Gospel. In his imagination-rich mind, he believed that “Christianity fulfilled paganism,”[2] for the two were simply a continuous thread of the same evolving story. Lewis’ description of his visit to Greece in 1960 fits that persuasion:
“I had some ado to prevent Joy and myself from relapsing into Paganism in Attica! At Daphni it was hard not to pray to Apollo the Healer. But somehow one didn’t feel it would have been very wrong — would have only been addressing Christ sub specie Apollonius. We witnessed a beautiful Christian village ceremony in Rhodes and hardly felt a discrepancy.”[2]

The countless similarities between Olympic themes and the books by C. S. Lewis remind us that human nature doesn’t change with time. In spite of cultural shifts through the ages, humanity faces the same timeless temptation to trade Biblical absolutes for the allure of man-made myths. The lures of the Olympics — titillating tales, spiritual ideals, triumphant power, fleshly sensuality, and the vision of peace and unity — match Lewis’ enticing stories. Take a look at some of them:

1. WORSHIPPING ZEUS
Ancient myths tell us that the ancient Olympic Games were founded by the mighty Heracles (Hercules to the Romans), son of Zeus, the reigning god on Olympus. This ancient theme continues to drive the opening ceremony of modern Olympics. One revealing part is the Olympic hymn, a prayer to Zeus, the ruling Greek deity at Olympus:
Immortal spirit of antiquity / Father of the true, beautiful and good … Shine in a roseate hue and for a vast temple / To which all nations throng to adore thee Oh immortal spirit of antiquity![1]
Many would justify this pagan ritual as little more than an affirmation of a benevolent spirit that fits global demands for a universal spirituality. But C. S. Lewis carried this pagan theme further. For example, he presents the Roman gods Mars and Venus as visible angelic deities on planet Venus in his book “Perelandra,” the second book in his Space Trilogy. Ransom, the main hero, was transported to that planet by some friendly elvila, angelic messengers visible only by the light they emanate. On Venus, the nude Ransom befriends an innocent Eve and protects her from an earthly, demon-possessed tempter. The ensuing battle kills the villain but bruises Ransom’s heel, which continues to bleed until the end of the story — as if a fulfillment of Genesis 3:?15.
The third book in the series, “That Hideous Strength,” is set in England. Ransom must now stop a team of evil, totalitarian conspirators determined to rule the world through modern behavior strategies and ancient magical powers. But stronger forces stand by Ransom. Having traveled to both Mars and Venus, he has continuing contact with the friendly elvila. Working with Ransom and Merlin (the Druid magician featured in ancient Arthurian tales has been awakened from his 1500 year sleep), they summon the mighty powers of the planetary pantheon. The first god to arrive is Mercury (called Hermes by the Greeks), the “messenger” god of dark Hermetic magic.[3] Lewis described his mind-altering power:

“All fact was broken…. turned inside out, kneaded, slain, and reborn as meaning. For the Lord of Meaning himself… was with them… whom men call Mercury [or Hermes].”[4 - page 322]

Moments later, Venus, the goddess of love, arrives. Mars follows close behind. As you read the next excerpt, remember that in the ancient Greek games, the athletes — all male — competed in the nude. Homosexuality was considered normal. The fact that Lewis’ lifelong friend, Arthur Greeves, was a homosexual,[5] may help explain why Lewis added these details before introducing Zeus.
“The three gods who had already met… represented those two of the Seven Genders, which bear a certain analogy to the biological sexes…. It would not be so with those who were now preparing to descend. These also doubtless had their genders, but we have no clue to them….”[4 - page 325]
“Suddenly a greater spirit came…. Upstairs his mighty beam turned the Blue Room into a blaze of lights…. Kingship and power and festal pomp and courtesy shot from him…. For this was great Glund-Oyarsa, King of Kings… known to men in old times as Jove [ Jupiter to Romans, Zeus to the Greeks]…. Then… Merlin received the power into him.”[4 - pages 326-267]

2. A GLOBAL ETHIC FOR MAN AND NATURE

Working hand-in-hand with the United Nations, The Olympic Committee established a set of goals and “universal rules” for human development. These include:
“the promotion and safeguard of human rights, as historically achieved through the [United Nations'] Universal Declaration of Human Rights….
“the recognition – in addition to economic and social rights – of the principles of sustainable development.”
“educate people to the values of peace, tolerance, justice, freedom, solidarity and equality….”[6]

For more ——— go to: Web Site: www.crossroad.to/index.html

Berit Kjos is a widely respected researcher, writer and conference speaker. A frequent guest on national radio and television programs, Kjos has been interviewed on Point of View (Marlin Maddoux), The 700 Club, Bible Answer Man, Beverly LaHaye Live, Crosstalk and Family Radio Network. She has also been a guest on “Talk Back Live” (CNN) and other secular radio and TV networks. Her last two books are A Twist of Faith and Brave New Schools. Kjos Ministries

Home
Like the UN and Olympic leaders, C. S. Lewis saw a need for a global ethic. Thirteen years after he called himself a Christian, he wrote “The Abolition of Man,” which presents the Chinese Tao, not the Bible, as a moral and ethical standard for all mankind.”

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