Saturday, June 29, 2013

Just a Man

There is a doctrine within many churches that "Jesus was God in the flesh".  Though Yahshua was the son of the Father and did become flesh, most religions assign some divine powers to Yahshua making him more than a man.  That is not at all what Yahshua and Yahweh Most High set out to do.

Yahshua was to experience life as a man, completely and totally, to understand man's trials and suffering.  Which is more impressive, a high-wire walker with a net or without one?  How can Yahshua live as a man if he knew he had a safety net?  He chose to live without that safety net and be as a man:

Matthew 26:53 
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
He didn't say he could call on the angels, but that he would pray to the Father.  Just as he prayed to the Father in the case of Lazarus' death:

John 11:41-43 
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
Yahshua didn't have the power to do most of the miracles, but he called on the Father who granted his petition.  Peter also confirmed this in his sermon on that first Pentecost after Yahshua ascended:

Acts 2:22 
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Yahshua of Nazareth, a man approved of the Father among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which the Father did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 

Peter acknowledged the true source of all the miracles performed.  And all of these miracles were from the prayers of one man.

So we too can experience miracles if we also live as Yahshua, a man, lived and loved the Father as Yahshua loved the Father and call on the Father to grant us our petitions.  We just have to have faith that it can happen.  Yahshua had it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Faith vs the Bugout Bag

Unless your choice of news and social interaction is limited (especially if you don't associate with conservatives), you may not have heard of a "bugout bag".  Wikipedia lists the basic description as:
A bug-out bag is a portable kit that contains the items one would require to survive for seventy-two hours when evacuating from a disaster. The focus is on evacuation, rather than long-term survival, distinguishing the bug-out bag from a survival kit, a boating or aviation emergency kit, or a fixed-site disaster supplies kit. The kits are also popular in the survivalism subculture.
There are hundreds of websites devoted to providing bugout bags and bag contents; thousands of sites describing what should be in your bugout bag.  And the reasons are almost as diverse as the sites are numerous.  While common reasons include potential natural disasters (floods, tornadoes, hurricanes), the more recent "disasters" include:

  • Government/Financial collapse
  • Zombie Apocalypse
  • Contagious disease outbreak
  • International war
  • Government overthrow
  • Unusually restrictive martial law

Notice the description above from Wikipedia mentioned the "survivalism" subculture.  This "subculture" is focused on the preservation of self.  This blog being "Living As Modern Believers", how does this survivalism compare to faith in Yahweh?

Consider the perfect example, Luke 10:1-11:

1 After these things the Messiah appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore Yahweh of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of the Father is come nigh unto you.
10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of the Father is come nigh unto you.
Where is their "bugout" bag?  They had no first aid kit, no hatchets, knives or machetes, no military rations, no firestarters, flashlights, radios, money, duct tape, paracord, or compass.  They took literally nothing and lived on what they were able to receive from others.  Freely they gave and freely they received.

Just how much faith did that take?  Consider starting out immediately and going to another town by foot with no hotel reservation, no credit cards for restaurants, no guarantee of a bed or a meal.  How many of us would've just looked Yahshua in the eyes like he was crazy and walked away, not to go to another city and preach, but to just get away from this crazy person?

Yes, it makes sense to have a collection of items you may need for a disaster, but you have to make a decision about how much faith you show to the Father and to the world when you take it upon yourself to "guarantee" your "survival".

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent vs Days of Unleavens

We live in a funny world where people hear about Lent and think "okay, that's interesting and kinda cool".  Then they hear about "Days of Unleavens" (hereafter referred to as Unleavens) and wonder just how the observers of it could do such a thing.  However, when we do a comparison and contrast of the two, it can hardly be considered any more odd than Lent.

How They Are Similar:

  • Both are periods of reflection around the time of the Passover and Resurrection.
  • Both involve a form of fasting or giving up a specific portion of the normal diet.
  • Each are bookended by specific observances.

How They Differ:

  • Lent involves choosing your own vice to give up.  Sometimes this is not even dietary though a specific food vice is usually encouraged.  Children (and some adults) commonly give up items they hate or don't consume often.  Unleavens involves giving up and completely removing from your premises all products made with leavening.  There is no personal choice involved.
  • Lent runs for 40 days (give or take depending on the group observing it).  Unleavens runs for 7 days.
  • Lent is preceded by an episode of excess or gluttony in anticipation of the period.  Unleavens is preceded by Passover which is a separate day of reflection and memorial.
  • Lent usually ends (again, depends on the group) around Palm Sunday or Crucifixion week.  Unleavens begins and ends with a day of solemn assembly.
  • Lent is based on the concept of commemorating the 40 day fast observed by Jesus.  There is no scriptural command for its observance.  Unleavens is specifically commanded in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23 and the removal of leavening is a symbol of removing sin from our lives (I Corinthians 5:6-8) as well as the consuming of unleavened bread taking on sincerity and truth in addition to it representing the Messiah's body.

So while Lent and Unleavens are diverse from each other, one is no less odd than another (except that one involves actual obedience to commandments given).

Note about Church of God observances of Unleavens

It is commonly called "Days of Unleavened Bread" and it is often argued that the removal and avoidance of leavening is limited to bread products.  However, the original Hebrew commands list putting "leavening" out of your homes and do not say "leavened bread".  Thus, many such groups still hold onto products that are excluded by other stricter observing groups such as toothpaste, cleaning products containing baking soda, carbonated drinks (including beer), etc.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Be Content

It is a difficult walk at times when we can see others who choose to walk a different path have riches poured out upon them.  Sabbath-keepers who watch others get the jobs or promotions because THEY can work on Saturday.  Children who do not keep Christmas who watch their friends receive an outpouring of gifts.  Teenagers who do not keep Halloween who see their friends get gobs of candy from complete strangers.

We go through this life on a journey in a world that is not our home.  In a country that is not our own.  Watching the world around us get so much more than we receive because they have no desire to follow Yahweh.

It is easy to get a little depressed and envious of the world because of these things.  However, we must remember that this is all they have to look forward to.

Isaiah 64:4 - For since the beginning of the world, man has not heard nor perceived by ear nor seen by sight, O Elohim, besides you, what he has prepared for him that waits for him.
The key being we must wait.  We may be envious, but we must not let it overtake us.  We must remind ourselves that they have their reward (Matthew 6:1-8).  We only have to be content with what we have and wait.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Acts 10 - Unclean Meats

In an article posted recently on Huffington Post about Chick-Fil-A titled "Did Jesus Eat Chick-Fil-A at the Last Supper?", the author attempted to use scripture to call out Chick-Fil-A on its hypocrisy.  In this case, the author pointed out that bacon was forbidden by the bible and yet they have it on their menu.  I cheer on this author despite his motives for the attack.

In a followup article (rebuttal) on, the following was stated:
Again, Scudera’s biblical ignorance was evident. In Acts 10:15, St. Peter was commanded to eat animals forbidden by the Jewish dietary law in a dream. With the coming of Christianity, the old dietary restrictions setting apart the Jews as the Chosen People did not apply; the Gospel of Jesus Christ was extended to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike.
So, let's review what Acts does and does NOT say about eating unclean animals.

Acts 10:9-17
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.
12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.
13 Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."
14 "Surely not, Master!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that Yahweh has made clean."
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate.
Notice a few things here.  It does not say that Yahweh has declared all animals to be clean.  Also notice, and this is key, that in verse 17, Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision.  If, as Christianity declares, the intent was that all animals were now clean, what was there for Peter to ponder unless he knew it meant something other than what is declared by Christianity.

In Acts 11, Peter retells the entire tale to the believers in Jerusalem who were upset that he went into a house and ate with uncircumcised men.  Notice the response in verse 18 by those who hear this story:
Acts 11:18
When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised Yahweh, saying, "So then, Yahweh has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."
Where is the celebration that they could now eat any animal they wished?  How could they leave that out of their praise to Yahweh?  Did they also understand, just as Peter, that the vision was for the purpose of not judging men based on their situation if Yahweh has chosen them, but that Yahweh made no change to the law of clean or unclean meats?

So Christianity reads what they wish to get out of this, when Peter and the other believers in Jerusalem knew what Yahweh really meant.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day and Night

Believe it or not, there is disagreement between various groups of believers about what a "day" is according to scripture.  Now, we are aware that they did not use midnight at that time.  However, the concept is split into two differing views.

  1. The day is from sunset to sunset.  This is the prevailing view (most commonly accepted).  This use includes most Jewish sects as well as almost all Sabbath keeping groups.
  2. The day is from sunRISE to sunset.  The night is not counted for anything.
Now this seems rather minor, but it impacts a few things:

  1. Passover is not actually kept during the night portion as it must be observed on the 14th DAY of the month and so it cannot be at night.  This would also imply that Yahshua did not keep it at night either.
  2. This is the reason given that Yahweh had to specify that Atonement be from sunset to sunset (such specification was not necessary for other observances as it would be understood that they only kept the daylight portion).
  3. The Sabbath would then only be about 12 hours allowing for believers to work on Friday night or go out and party as it was not part of the observance of the Sabbath rest.
In order for the latter interpretation of a day to be upheld by scripture, it would require that ALL references to a day and a night be mutually exclusive.  There can be no examples showing the former interpretation to be true or plausible (as most understand the night portion to be part of the 24 hour day).

Thus, it behooves us to consider all scripture.  So when does a cock crow?

What does that matter?  Of course, it always crows at dawn.  At the beginning of the DAY.  That changes nothing, right?

Luke 22:34 
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. 
Now, if the "day" is only the daylight portion of the 24 hour period... and the cock only crows at the beginning of the day, does this imply that the cock did not crow that morning until a few hours after dawn so that Yahshua's statement could be made after dawn, then all the events after also occur in that morning until almost lunch time for the cock to crow when Peter denied him three times?  After all, they went to the Mount of Olives and back.  It seems rather implausible, but many miracles occurred at this time (including earthquakes and some resurrections).  Thus, it is possible that the cock could hold back it's normal morning crow until Peter denied him three times.

However, as one previous member of our congregation put it, there must be two witnesses and we have a second one.  This one is much more informative:
Mark 14:30 
And Yahshua saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Now here, the Messiah himself, in his own words, points out that the time he gives this proclamation, it is to be fulfilled this SAME day, this SAME night.  How is that possible if the night is not part of the day and vice-versa?
Matthew 26:34
Yahshua said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Once again, we have a witness that Yahshua said this night.  So two gospels show that he said "night" and two show that he said "day".  They do not contradict each other.  They support each other.

Here we have the Messiah himself point to a specific time as being both day and night.  That is NOT what the second interpretation of a "day" says.  It matches perfectly the first and most commonly accepted interpretation of a "day".

Mark 14:68 
But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 
Peter denies him and the cock crows, the dawn is breaking.  He denies him twice more and the cock crows once more.  All of what happened before this moment was in the night.
Matthew 27:1 
When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Yahshua to put him to death 
Matthew confirms once more that all that happened until this moment was BEFORE the morning was come... which is at the beginning of a day, not mid-day or afternoon.

A day consists of daylight and nighttime.  Yahshua himself pointed to the time he gave that proclamation as being in one day, during the night time portion of that day.  At the time he was keeping the Passover, in the NIGHT on the 14th as every Israelite was keeping it and required to keep it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

This Weak Flesh

On this day of Atonement, we must understand that we are in a constant battle against ourselves.  It is a difficult task to undertake a 24-hour fast from sunset to sunset, not consuming any food or drink.  Our flesh is so dependent on these that it rebels at the thought of willingly withholding and abstaining from any morsel or drop.

Our minds are bombarded throughout this day.  Our flesh clamors for succor.  Everywhere we turn there are reminders of those things our body needs and craves:  the kitchen, the fruit bowl on the counter, the snacks available, the water fountains we pass by, the world still consuming as it is wont to do.  Our thoughts turn to food throughout the day.  By the end of this day, the discussion has turned towards choice locations in which to break the fast.

Our minds are bombarded throughout this day.  It is the flesh we must overcome.  It is in this status of being that we must, beyond normal expectations, turn our thoughts, minds and hearts to Yahweh.  He is the true sustainer of all life.  We cannot live without Him.  It is our duty to acknowledge this.

The Israelites were constantly reminded of this fact.  They were regularly seeking food (only out of boredom of the manna) and water.  However, they took it for granted when sustenance was provided.  We are not so much different from them.  Very few of us ever have to grow our own food.  Fewer of us can even fathom the idea of killing an animal for food.

We may some day have to depend 100% on Yahweh for sustenance when the world around us is starving.  We may find ourselves exiled and unable to purchase food due to our beliefs and we will turn to Yahweh in those moments.

On this day, we are reminded that these days are coming and it is necessary we turn to Him now, so that we may find His face turned to us when we need Him most.  So ignore the flesh and find Yahweh.  He will provide for our needs.