Topical Fruits

Oh, there are so many topics that I have covered up to this point. Some in conjunction with others, some standing alone. Most of the topics I’ve covered have been recorded to help keep me understanding the big picture of what our daily walk with Adonai above should be like, in accordance to His Word, the set-apart (Holy) Scriptures. As I have been progressively learning and growing in my faith-walk, I have picked up, and put down, many teachings and theologies from famous, and not so famous, pastors, preachers, teachers, and theologians. Over the many recent months, I have shed off many doctrines and creeds that I once accepted at face value, and have instead come to embrace the simple and pure truths of Scripture in their original context and meanings. Essentially, trying to not follow the crowds who had long ago embraced man’s ways and doctrines…the very ones that Yeshua, Himself, had rebuked! (Mark 7:6-8 And He (Yeshua) answering, said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you hypocrites, as it has been written, ‘This people respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men. Forsaking the command of Elohim, you hold fast the traditions of men.”

Yeshua Jesus also had words for the many who doubted or didn’t accept the clear truths they had heard and seen from Him themselves. In Matthew 11, Yeshua laments the state of many people and cities that both He, and John, had preached the good news to, and who had refused to turn away from their self-driven, wayward lives. He spoke the truth, and yet they rejected His Words because what He said didn’t fit into their perception of how Messiah should be. They wanted an immediate warrior to destroy the enemies of Israel, but instead they saw Yeshua as nothing more than a weak lamb. They wanted a King above all kings, and yet they saw Him a simple meek servant. Those who Messiah condemned lost out because they thought they knew better, that they were more learned. In reality, they were trapped within their own ideologies and doctrines because they clung tightly to the teachings of men instead of the Words of God. Likewise, we’ve been programmed to accept the teachings of the Christian churches as correct because…well, that’s just the way it always has been! But, what if you are following teachings that, say, took a wrong turn long ago? Well, then you could end up very lost…and nowhere near your initial goals to follow Adonai above. There will always be a learning curve when you first begin any journey, but if the instructions we start out with are flawed or difficult to understand, we could end up going the wrong direction without even knowing it. Many roadmaps (theologies) that have been presented to westernized society over the centuries had actually come from preconceived ideologies and thoughts of men who had specific agendas and biases. So, while the path I began on long ago might appear to be somewhat more of aimless wanderings (from a birds-eye view), there has always been one fixed constant that kept me moving (somewhat) in the right direction; the desire to know Adonai Elohim, the God of the Bible.

I have tried to keep the core of most of my writings and podcasts encompassed and adherent to the Scriptures alone, since they are the very source for all studying and reading the Words of Elohim, given to us through His Ruach (Spirit), conveyed through the voices and hands of men who were divinely appointed to be His messengers to the world! The Bible is the very source for all our lives, interpreted by the Holy Spirit to our heart and soul and mind. We are instructed to read and meditate on the Words of God daily (Jos 1:8 “Do not let this Book of the Torah depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you guard to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and act wisely.”). These Words are the light we need to navigate through the complexities and difficulties that we will have in this life (Ps 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”). They are also the Words given as instruction (Torah) on how to worship and praise Abba Father above! They teach us how we are to live daily in an acceptable and set-apart manner before, not only Yahweh, but also the peoples of this world (Rom 12:1 “I call upon you, therefore, brothers, through the compassion of Elohim, to present your bodies a living offering – set-apart, well-pleasing to Elohim – your reasonable worship.”) There is nothing outside of the Scriptures that should have more sway and affect on a believer of the God of Israel. 

There are a vast array of organizations (churches and ministries) that claim to be representatives of Yeshua Jesus who teach their followers a variety of ways to worship the God of the Bible and have a living relationship with His Son. But, are they all correct? Do they all adhere to the commands of Elohim? Do they truly point people to God through Yeshua Jesus? Well, you have read and heard many of my rants where I have come across harsh concerning the many men and religious groups who, over the centuries, have usurped and even thwarted the Bible as being the only complete source for knowing and serving Hashem (the Name above all names). I have gone on tirades against the many who have purposefully diminished the Words of God as absolute truth. I have wrestled with the countless doctrines and creeds of men that have attempted to put YHWH in a box and define Him specifically in one fashion or another. Most modern westernized churches, through the various bias translations of Scripture, have tried to redefine the complete source of our salvation. Essentially, they have created for themselves a new religion based on skewed ideologies and doctrines of men. As we are to emulate Yeshua Messiah, we need to follow Him completely; to follow His teachings, which expounded on His Scriptures, the Tanakh, (or what is referred to as the Old Testament.) What many seem to miss is that we are to interpret the New Testament writings through the lens of the Old Testament, instead of trying to interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the new writings; as most of Christendom has been doing for centuries. I say all this not to be contentious or think that I am right and that so many are wrong, but to simply point out these very things to show that the road most of us have travelled along up to this point has had its origins based on defective maps created by men. Essentially, people created a reinterpretation of the original map for us to follow based on their personal bias and agendas, instead of staying with the original map planned out by God Himself. But, thanks be to God that there are many U-turns and redirects that will blessedly show up; but only when we take time to actually look at His original map! 

There is a reason that history is so important to study. It has been said that if we don’t learn from history, then we are doomed to repeat it. We can clearly see that this is true just by taking time to actually research church history; how we got from ‘there’ to ‘here’. It is one thing to study the Words contained within the covers of the Holy Bible, it is another to understand the original context of what is being said by who and why. Asking the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of the text, in relationship to all other context, puts a very unique and very different perspective compared to what we’ve been led and taught to believe. (Most of which has been based on the teachings of post-apostolic early church forefathers). I have spoken about the historical “changes” implemented by a certain 4th century pagan Roman emperor and the later church “leaders” before, so I won’t go into too much detail, other than to say that deep alterations to the first century follower’s practices and adherences were extremely dramatic, and those changes literally created a “new religion” by the end 325AD. So, please, do your own research to see!

We gentiles are a people much like the Israelites in the Tanakh who were continually driven to do their own thing, despite what Elohim’s Word instructed us to do. In essence, humanity has mastered the skill of creating our own ways to worship by redefining who God is, by reinterpreting the texts to fit our ideologies, by giving fancy names and doctrines to our various groups, and by cancelling out the teachings of Scripture that don’t fit our personal views…all so we can sound prominent, righteous, and stoic because of our interpretations of His Word. We love to elevate teachers and leaders onto pedestals who will promote our created traditions. And we know best how to market our religion through music and books and media so as to draw in the masses with the latest ways of how they should all think and feel towards our Elohim. I guess I can be so bold as to say that the current stream of “christianity” that much of the world sees today is really nothing more than a professional program…filled with idolatry, materialism, and even apostasy, sprinkled with some happy love verses out of context, that is far removed from the original commands of how we are to truly worship and follow our Elohim. 

Much of this has stemmed from man injecting subtle hints and personal bias into the translations of the Bible. This, we know for fact, has happened and yet the people just ignored and accepted it. These misinterpretations have greatly affected how we read and understand His Word. Let’s look at one (minor?) fairly obvious alteration to the New Testament; the book of James. The title should actually be Jacob, or the Jewish name Ya’aqob! (The original Greek name “Iakōbos” means Jacob) So…what was the point of changing the author’s name into a drastically different name? I mean, there are other “Jacobs” in the Bible, so why rename this particular guy? The current accepted name “James” first appeared in the 14th century when John Wycliffe translated the Latin name Iacomus as James in the first English translation of the Bible. All the future translations just stuck with the incorrect name! This great error was reinforced after King James sponsored an “new” English translation, which was originally called the Authorized Version in 1611 (and didn’t actually get called the King James Bible until 1797). Again…why? Why the alterations to the original texts? I’ll tell you one reason: they wanted to do away with the Jewishness of the Bible! There was enough hatred toward Israel by the English that making Scriptures read and sound more “westernized” would draw in more believers. (Also meaning more revenue for the church coffers!) This history is fully documented…they never tried to “hide” this fact.

As more older and complete copies of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts have been discovered, they (the translators) will compare them with current transcripts and might adjust the text accordingly. But in most cases, the discoveries do not change verbiage enough to affect or alter the theology or history. Yet, that didn’t stop many of the translators over the centuries to take liberties when translating into modern languages (and is also dependent on if they were using a previous translations like the latin vulgate, or if they were translating from the original languages). Some groups or individuals, when translating into English (and various other languages), may also have had a particular worldview, and the Bible’s writings might conflict with that view, so small adjustments to the text would be made to alter the original meaning. Sadly, this is often the case with many of the loosely paraphrased editions of Scripture…meaning that they will rewrite some verses enough to lead the reader to interpret the text a particular way. We can easily see that simply by comparing many the “versions” of Scripture all at once. Thankfully, there is software now days available that has the technology to look at a variety of Bible translations all at once so as to compare them with each other. And, honestly, I highly suggest that ALL of your studies be done in this fashion! Clinging to one translation alone, (either because that is what you were raised on or perhaps you believe it is that only “authorized” text (though, I’m not sure who authorized it, since only Adonai Elohim can do that)) is akin to putting your entire understanding of God into the hands of one opinion. Some people might find that a particular translation is too complicated to read, so they’ll find a simpler version, which can often result in a twisted misunderstanding of the original context and really miss out on what Elohim intended for us to know. 

The same approach to the study of Scripture (looking at a variety of translations) can also apply to which pastors, preachers, and teachers you are in lockstep with. Placing all your hopes and learning on one person or ministry is dangerous, and will often lead to the idol worship of man (not to mention also having a very narrow, or even possibly false, teaching that is not Biblical and will lead you down the wrong paths.) Knowing the complete truth of Scripture will lead us, by the Ruach HaKodesh, to the truth of Messiah Yeshua…which is our only salvation! Yet we can see most problems arise when we have too many worldviews being injected into the Words of God just to fit personal narratives. We are to listen only to the Words of Elohim, not the world. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” But many in the “church” today are driven to be conformed to the ways of this world, to fit in, to be like those around them. They think that if they act like the world around them, accept the world’s way of thinking, water-down the Holy Words of God for the people, that they will be accepted and then can enjoy the fruits of both worlds. They take their “maps” that are altered just to get others onboard. Before you know it, the original map from Yahweh doesn’t look at all like the one people today are using to direct their lives. People want to have their own selected leaders over them, ones who pander or cater to their wants and desires, not the strictness they perceive that comes from Elohim above. 

In 1 Samuel chapter 8, the people were growing restless with Yahweh, and since their leader, Samuel, was getting old and his two kids were not quite up to the task of carrying their father’s torch (since they also didn’t walk properly in the Way), the people themselves had their own agenda and plan, much like most do today. Starting in verse 4 it reads: Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Behold, you have grown old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us—like all the nations.” (In other words, they wanted to be like those other people all around them, the very ones whom God said “do not be like them!”) But the matter was displeasing in Samuel’s eyes when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to Adonai. Then Adonai said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you. For they have not rejected you, rather they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like all the deeds that they have done since the day I brought them out of Egypt to this day—forsaking Me and worshiping other gods—so they are doing to you also.” Adonai follows with a warning of what will happen if the people get what they want…in this case; a king…and He also knows that they will whine about that later as well! It’s important to remember that what we think we want or need will not be in our best interest! When we try to put our definition of wants and needs above God’s definition of what we need…we will often be filled with regret when He gives us over to the desires of our hearts! (Romans 1:24).

We are not robots; brainless programs that follow blindly to the commands given us. Our Elohim wants us to be free to worship Him in spirit and truth, from our hearts, and to wholly desire to know and love Him! Yet, He knows us (Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”), wants what is best for us (Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”), and gives us the instructions we need to bring us through this journey (Psalm 119:1-2 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the Torah (instructions) of Adonai. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies and seek Him with all their heart.) His Word is the light we need in this dark world. His Word is the map that brings us into fellowship with Him. The Creator of the universe came down to us when we were lost and gave us the Way…through Messiah Yeshua! His Words are for all who seek to stand before Him in glory and live eternally in the Light of salvation! We are to follow Him through Yeshua, not follow man. We are to study His Torah and follow His Torah, and know His Torah (instructions). Yeshua followed the Torah and instructed us in John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” And what is His commandments? The entire Torah. The law was not nailed to the cross. The punishment for breaking the law was! 

Let us walk in the footsteps of our Rabbi and our Messiah/Savior Yeshua…to use His map, not the ones created by man, but His alone for our whole journey with Him to eternity. 


Instructions To Live By

…that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Yeshua Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10

Oh, just how much the name of Yeshua/Jesus drives people crazy! And, unless his name is being used in a blaspheme way, people don’t want to hear it! If you spew an expletive out using the name of Jesus Christ, it is perfectly fine and accepted. Yet, if you speak the name of Yeshua Jesus to someone by explaining who he is as the Messiah and what he taught, you will be met with eye-rolling, head-turning, hand-to-the-face opposition! But, just what can be said (specially in the last several years) about all the public displays of demonic symbology and evil characterizations? If someone dances as a devil and parades demonic characters for either movies or videos in the entertainment industry, that is just having some fun and it is ok’d by the masses. Even derogatory connotations about God, Jesus, and the Scriptures have become a frivolous matter within gatherings and media circles to the level that people just brush it off as insignificant. “It’s just harmless fun,” they say, “it’s not hurting anyone!” Or they exclaim that those opposed to such antics are being “too religious” or “legalistic.” And yet, are we who believe just being too zealous being offended by all this? Are we even offended at all?

Quite honestly, our western civilization, (including the current “church”), has gone beyond the point of committing spiritual suicide, and is very much easing itself comfortably into complete apostasy. It is obvious to see that the people who are promoting these crass and evil depictions as nothing but mere “harmless” fun, are, in fact, also without an ounce of guilt over the aftermath. They simply pass on the responsibility of restricting or limiting the visuals to the parents and adults. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it! But we also know for a fact that most parents and adults don’t restrict or limit what is being watched or listened to by children. After all, harmless fun, like celebrating halloween or enjoying scary movies, has been around for countless decades, and by now “most” folks should be able to distinguish between fantasy and reality, right? Well, if we were to truly take the blinders off and looked around at our society’s current state, it would be quite clear that this complacency and acceptance of evil has had a much deeper negative impact on the morality of people throughout the last few generations…so much more that what people might realize! 

Most of the immoral attitudes and events that are happening in western society today would absolutely shock and disturb people from even less than a century ago. If you were to go back even further in time, you would find that most people stood firm as staunch opponents to the very demonic displays we are currently accepting today. To see how far our moral compass has gone astray, and, just how much our hearts have deteriorated and hardened, one only has to understand the apologue describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if you put a frog suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out. But, if the frog is put in tepid water and the water is then slowly brought to a boil, the frog will not perceive the danger and it will be cooked to death. Graphic, I understand, but quite necessary to understand why we, as a society, have strayed so far from where the God of the Bible wants us to be. We have over time, like the frog, gradually accepted the small increases in immorality by decreasing ourselves from following the very Words that God has given to us for our instruction (Torah) to live by: the Holy Bible.

First of all, I know that not every human who has ever walked this planet has believed in, or followed, Yahweh Adonai…the God of the Bible. Nor do I think that everyone will ever fully accept and follow Yahweh. Though we all are descendants from Noah and his family after the flood, since they were the only humans to survive, not all have walked the same path in life. Most strayed from Elohim’s instructions to follow after their own heart, their own desires, and their own ideologies. So there are many that do not, nor will ever be, God-fearing men and women. But, to the many who do claim themselves to be “followers” of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob within the pages of Scriptures, it is clear that most still do their “own thing” in life. Sure, they may claim themselves to be Christian or Jewish or believers in God and the Bible, but do they truly follow completely as God has instructed? In my previous podcast and writing, I walked through the definition and concept of being a disciple…a follower of Yeshua Jesus and a faithful adherent to Yahweh God of the Bible and His Torah. But as I opened in this writing, there seems to be an even more rampant acceptance of many pagan and evil cultural holidays, feasts, and activities…even within the very walls of most “churches” today!

Even with all the understanding and knowledge of what the Bible says and instructs to those who would claim themselves to be believers of God, we can sadly see that those instructions (Torah) are not only being minimized in their veracity, but even ignored or dismissed all together as not necessary anymore. Modern “churches” have not only watered down the authority of the complete Scriptures, but have gone so far as cut major portions out as unimportant or archaic or insignificant since we, as a society, have deemed ourselves “evolved” and that those Biblical rules are no longer applicable for the people of today to follow. A vast majority of folks, including attendees of the various churches, have come to the conclusion that they know what is best for themselves. After all, the times and culture from Biblical days have changed drastically and therefore do not address the current issues we face today. It doesn’t take a highly educated person to grasp that lifestyles and laws from the ancient middle east don’t quite fit neatly into the lifestyles and laws that we have now in our westernized 21st century!

But…did God’s laws (or Torah) change? Because that would mean that God changed. Does God change? Well, the Bible is quite clear that God “is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” so that would be conflicting. I had found a great explanation regarding the laws of the Old Testament and whether or not they remain applicable today. If a police officer showed you grace by not writing you a ticket for speeding, does that mean that the traffic laws are now abolished? Are you now free to speed? No! How ridiculous! The officer’s grace should bring you to willingly obey the traffic laws! His leniency was not a termination of the traffic laws, but rather a mercy to encourage and guide you to obedience. Can you guess what this analogy parallels? If you said Yeshua Jesus and His pleas for us to keep the Torah, or the Commandments of God, then you win! So, then, why does the churches today forgo accepting and teaching the Torah? Because they’ve deemed them archaic and state that Yeshua Jesus did away with them. Again…giving grace didn’t make the laws change or go away. Yeshua said He came to fulfill the laws (show us how to keep them properly as intended by Yahweh God). Matthew 5:17-19 says “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them (meaning to do them). For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” And Matthew 19:17 says “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” You see, Yeshua was talking about the Torah, the Old Testament laws, because that was the only Bible they read and followed!

So, since there is such a perceived drastic difference from the world of Jesus’ day to our world today, the modern denominations have taken it upon themselves to adjust and reform the Bible to fit their ideologies and teachings so as to guide the people they serve. Since cultural norms have shifted and have become more accepting and tolerant of people that choose not to follow the commands of God, the implication is that it really doesn’t matter what the Bible may say about certain lifestyle choices. If you “feel” that a certain way of life is good for you, but the Bible conflicts with it, “don’t worry,” they say, “because God loves everyone unconditionally, so it’s ok to be who God made you to be,” after all! They push a narrative that God accepts everyone, no matter what a person may say or do (or so says the pulpits of most churches today.) But, is that really what God says? If anyone actually took time away from the schools, away from the influencers, away from the pulpit-masters, away from the commentaries, away from the opinions, away from their upbringing, and away from the creeds and confessions, to actually read for themselves the very Words within the pages of Scripture, I truly believe that there would be an uprising against the very walls of modern church entities. Because what is being sold as “church” today is in complete contrast to what the Holy Bible of God’s Words say. 

Jesus didn’t come to change the rules. He didn’t come to negate the Laws. He didn’t come to start a new religion. He didn’t come to make new rules for living. Everything that Yeshua said and did was to show us all, the Jewish and Gentile believers, how to conform and live the Torah. All his teachings, including the Sermon on the Mount, expounded on the Torah laws, yet was dismissive to the distorted man-made laws that the religious leaders of the day had blended with the Torah. This blending of “new” was much like man did at First Council of Nicaea around 325AD. Yet, people forget that all of the Apostles and disciples of Yeshua still attended the synagogue on the Sabbath (the 7th day, Saturday). They still adhered to all of the feasts and food laws. They taught all of the new converts to emulate and follow Yeshua Jesus, who followed the Torah laws. This was all the norm even after Yeshua rose to heaven. Well, until man injected his own ideology into the process and decided to make adjustments and modifications to the commands of God. Do you see how the heat was slowly increased to the water? The first century followers, Jews and Gentiles, walked according to the Jewish Messiah who followed the Jewish laws (Torah) to worship and follow God’s decrees and laws given to Moses at Sinai. Nothing changed. Until around the 4th century when man decided to add his views and ideologies. And this very slow boil has been increasing ever since! 

But, I have harped enough on that. It’s quite simple…it really is! Adonai Elohim is a God of all or nothing. I covered this in my last podcast and writing. All I can stress at this point is that we are commanded to “come out from among them”. This might seem drastic. This might seem fanatical. This may be deemed quite extreme to many around, but I can assure you that if you truly want to be considered a true follower of Yeshua Jesus, you need to seriously consider what He taught. And to understand what He taught, you need to see where He got his source material from…the Torah! Now before you go screaming “culture” and the like, yes, there are certainly laws that are not applicable to all people or that are deemed “done away with.” Foremost is that we do not have the Temple to sacrifice and worship at anymore. The sacrificial process was a command of God that was completed because of Yeshua’s great sacrifice for us. No, we probably don’t exchange donkeys and camels for a wife these days either (though in some cultures…!) Some laws are applicable now days to the heart, such as circumcision or sacrifice. But if you look online at the approximate 613 laws from the Torah, you will find that most are certainly still applicable and can easily be followed, even in today’s cultural times! And having a proper and strict reverence to following the decrees of God would certainly alter the progression of our immoral culture!

We are a society that is sliding fast into the abyss. Hell is real folks! And, yet, people have accepted the boiling water so much that they don’t want to get out anymore. Many now embrace the immorality and impending doom because they are blinded by the delusion of “peace, safety, comfort, love, protection” that they think this world offers. You cannot call Jesus your Lord and Savior and still run your own life your way! Messiah said “Follow Me”. He didn’t say that He would tag along in your world on your journey. But He did say that you were to tag along with Him solely on His journey! On my last writing and podcast I opened with this line: “If we invite someone in, they are in our world. If someone invites us in, we are in their world.” We don’t invite Jesus into our world, because our world is of this world and He told us explicitly that “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” Paul (Saul) wrote that we are “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) We are “not to love the world, or the things of this world.” (1John 2:15-17) 

Yeshua Jesus said of His followers in John 17:14-19 “I have given them Your word and the world has hated them; for they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I am not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world. For them I sanctify Myself, so that they too may be sanctified by the truth.” Yes, we are here in this world for a time and season, but we are not to be like this world…in any way! God’s Word is the complete Torah. Not just select verses or fitting ideologies. We are to be disciples, followers of Yeshua, who followed the complete Word of God. If your life isn’t reflecting that, then it’s time to reevaluate. If your “church” is not reflecting that, then it’s time to find one that does. No place of worship and teaching is perfect, but we certainly do not want to allow or accept too many compromises to go unchallenged or corrected, because in time, the water gets to a boiling point where death is imminent. And that death has eternal consequences!



If we invite someone in, they are in our world. If someone invites us in, we are in their world. 

Quite a hodgepodge of events lately. There have been a number of life changes in recent months for me, including employment uncertainties, losing a loved one, and having a huge rework of my belief system. All this, and more, has been enough to really challenge me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Usually when major events happen to us, it can cause us to stop and reflect, re-evaluate, and adjust or change our direction in life accordingly. Every human being that has ever walked on this planet has been subjected to some type of dramatic, life-altering, event. No one is immune. In some cases the situation might be sad and painful. In some, it might be a joyous and celebrated moment. But in almost all cases, these things can often change the course of our lives forever. I believe this has happened to me.

When we look at the whole of Scripture, we see story after story of events and situations that have also drastically changed a Biblical character’s life. Like dams that are placed in the paths of rivers to alter the course of its direction, so, too, do these events alter the forward direction people may have been going. We can easily see how Abram was doing his thing in life until God spoke to him and told him to uproot everything and everyone he knows and go to a new place. We see Moses living life with his in-laws for 40 years, comfortable in his routines, until God spoke to him and changed the course of his life forever. We see the entire nation of Israel, living in the only world they knew, Egypt, suddenly being led out of that land in a direction and destination they knew nothing about. Essentially, all these people had their everyday lives turned upside down by God’s calling. 

When we get to the New Testament, we can easily see a dozen men (the Apostles) who were busy tending to everyday life in their professions. Peter, Andrew, James, John…all fishermen by trade…called suddenly away from all they knew to follow a man they had never met before. Think of Matthew the tax collector. He was busy at work one day sitting in his office (booth), taking care of Roman taxes, when a strange man walked by and said “Follow Me”. His life has now taken a sudden turn and will be transformed forever. In all cases, whether it be my personal changes or the alterations in the lives of the Biblical men and women, the cause of these changes had their roots in Adonai Elohim, the LORD God above. Whether through events around us or within us, Abba Father’s Spirit is the mighty effect to change our course in life…whether we want it or not!

All things, good or bad, happen for a reason and a season, according to the will of the Father. It says in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” But what about those who don’t love God, or even believe in Him? Are they doomed to suffer only bad things? Obviously, the answer is no. God can, and does, use all things to draw people to Himself. Someone may wake up and realize that their physical blessings are from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and then subsequently turn their lives over to Yeshua Messiah. Some might go through a tragedy that forces them to see the God of the Bible face to face and come to realize that they need to turn their lives over to Jesus. Or someone might have a superficial understanding or knowledge of Yahweh God, but have never truly surrendered their lives completely until some major change in their life becomes the catalyst for them to commit their lives to God and change their course forever. 

Even if you are already a believer, there are many moments that can affect the direction we may have already been walking by faith. Take, for example, Saul of Tarsus. He was a Godly and devout man of Yahweh, dedicated to living the Judaic faith to the fullest. He properly observed the Torah (the Old Testament instructions on how to live) and was very learned in the Scriptures. Yet, despite his zeal for his religion, God’s plans can affect changes in a moment when least expected! Elohim wanted Saul to see the truth that Yeshua Jesus was in fact the awaited Messiah of Israel and the Gentile nations! Saul (also known as Paul in Greek/Roman circles) wasn’t expecting to “convert” and accept Jesus as Lord, but as mentioned before, God can, and does, alter lives! 

The most important thing that many of us need to recognize and realize is that when these life changes occur, we should hold fast and embrace them. It can be very easy to dismiss a dramatic moment by thinking that we are just having an emotional response, or that we just had a confusing moment of weakness, or that it is better to stick with what we know and not venture to far away from our comfort zone. But we can clearly see in the pages of Scripture that God’s life-altering events are meant to take us away from our happy place, to send us down roads we may have never walked before, and, most of all, to go all in! God’s calling is almost always very radical and requires us to “take a leap of faith” into the unknown! Something that I have always struggled with. 

I’ve come to understand that this God of the Bible wants nothing less than an all-or-nothing commitment. If you think about the 10 Commandments, most will agree that they are to be adhered to in our daily lives. Love God, love our neighbors, don’t kill, don’t covet, don’t lie, and go to church on the Sabbath. Simple. But most who claim themselves followers, or Christians, or religious, actually live their day-to-day lives keeping only some of the Commandments of God. And, yet, nowhere in the Bible does God give us permission to live life by only observing 7 out of 10 of the laws, or even 9 out of 10. Adonai was quite clear that we are to conduct our lives following all of the Commandments and laws! There has never been a gray area or exclusions under certain circumstances! Nowhere, not even in the New Testament, does God change His rules for life! And sadly, for many of us, guilty as charged!

So, this brings me to how so many people struggle with being a disciple of Yeshua Jesus, myself included. We seem to be ok complying with the soft, gentle, easily accepted rules of life, but cannot seem to go all in and give up our past ways to completely devote ourselves to follow the Messiah every day, in every way! The true radical transformation we are Biblically called too often times gets slowed or halted because we are either afraid to give up what we know (our comfort zones), are afraid of what others might think of us (our pride and ego), or we have settled for the watered-down church life that only focuses on happy-love-joy things that require no sacrifices or repentance of sin in our lives (being complacent and selective). 

The disciples in the Bible gave up everything they knew to follow what the Spirit of Yahweh opened their eyes to…Yeshua Jesus as Messiah. Thousands upon thousands turned over the entirety of their lives to the radical change of being a follower of the Way. They faced the ridicule, scorn, contempt, loss, and rejection by family and friends. They completely turned away from anything and everything that God had instructed as bad or wrong. They walked down the new roads, knowing that they would be letting go of their pasts and embracing the gracious gift of God through Messiah Jesus of eternal life in glory. The knew from the start that this path was an all-or-nothing decision. Hebrews chapter 11 displays some of the examples of true faith, of those who gave up all they knew for all that God was giving them. Verses 1-2 says “Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see. This is why the ancients were commended.” 

Not just the believers within the pages of the New Testament, but all the countless disciples (followers of Yeshua) showed their true faith by walking in the path that was offered them through the Messiah. Essentially, a disciple is one who emulates his/her master in every way. They walk, talk, and live their lives as close as possible to the one whom they are committed to follow. As more and more disciples were brought in to the fold, they were pointed to Jesus as the one and only way of how they were to live. Yeshua Jesus was the perfect example of Yahweh God: “So Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does. The Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. And to your amazement, He will show Him even greater works than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He wishes.” (John 5:19-21). As Jesus emulates the Father, so, too, we are called to emulate Jesus!

So, here we are. Perhaps we are walking in our faith weak, complacent, watered-down, selective, and hot/cold daily. Are we true disciples or are we on again/off again Christians who change our spots depending on the environment we are in? Do we live our lives in such a fashion that the unbelieving pagans don’t see us as any different from themselves? Do we puff up our religious displays on the Sabbath, yet live the other days as everyone else? Are we hesitant to speak out for Yeshua Jesus when others blaspheme His name because we fear the retribution or ridicule? I, for one, am guilty as charged in so many circumstances. Not just for being wishy-washy day to day around others, but also for being selective on what is and what isn’t important to follow within the pages of Scripture. You see, so many dismiss the Old Testament because Jesus came. But the problem with that is most are missing the part that Yeshua and all His disciples didn’t have a nice, neat New Testament to use. Their Bible to follow and study was the Tanakh…the Old Testament. They followed the laws, studied the Patriarchs, and memorized the Words. If we are truly followers, we would be doing the same!

Read Hebrews chapter 11. No, actually, study it. Meditate on it. See what true faith is supposed to look like in light of the dramatic changes in one’s life. Changes that affected so many to give up all things, including self, to follow the God of the Bible, now through His Son Yeshua Messiah, Jesus Christ. They gave up everything to be true disciples. Have we? They repented (turned away) of their old ways to live lives according to God’s ways. Have we? What have we given up…if anything? We should not have any excuses if we truly want to be His disciples. Yeshua Jesus tells us that He does NOT accept a lukewarm faith. In Revelation 3:15-16 He says “I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth!” So, where do you stand now and where do you want to be standing at the coming Judgment Day before the Messiah Himself?


Where Did We Take A Left Turn?

Thus says Yahweh: “Stand by the ways, and see, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

The Holy Bible of the Judeo/Christian faith has a way of getting right to the heart of a person. It says in Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. I can testify that Elohim and His Words have shaken me to the very core of my soul in the last several months. Shaken to the point where everything that I thought I knew wasn’t exactly as I had thought. That the very things that I placed trust and faith into are not the clear and fullest truth. That I’ve been on a path, or road if you will, that is not the same road from where it all started…in the very beginning. Let me explain.

From the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, subsequently translated into Latin, English, and a variety of other languages, the very words of the canonized Bible…what is commonly called the Old and New Testaments…have impacted the vast majority of people around the world for multiple centuries. From those very powerful words, written by approximately 40 authors over the span of about 1500 years, comes the voice of Yahweh God to the people that inhabit this planet. All things came from God through Yeshua/Jesus, (the son of God), according to the very words of the Holy Scriptures. It says in Colossians 1:16-17 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. In Genesis 1:1, the first of the 66 collected books that make up the Holy Bible, it says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” 

If we look through the timeline of the Bible we learn that God created Adam and Eve, the first people, who fell into sin (a breaking of God’s laws) and lost the paradise God had given them (the Garden of Eden). Subsequently through lineage, Noah came about, but so did rampant sin against God, who then flooded the planet (saving only Noah and his family) to start fresh. Essentially God establishes a group of people through Abram (Abraham) and his offspring to be a holy people (holy means “called out”) and to eventually establish His laws to these people through His prophet Moses, after God lead the Hebrew people (Hebrew meaning to “cross over”) out of bondage (Egypt). He gives them a land (the Promised Land) to live in and to worship Him. Unfortunately the 12 tribes of the now-called Israelites have conflicts with one another and are separated (northern 10 tribes and southern 2 tribes) and go through many rise and fall periods because they kept breaking God’s laws. Even after multitudes of warnings from various prophets of God to repent (meaning to turn away from sin), their sinning continued. This went on for centuries. But God had a plan for not only the Jewish people, but for the rest of the world as well.

The last Old Testament period prophet came proclaiming that the “Promised One”, the Messiah, who would take away the sins of the world would be coming. John the Baptist announced that one was coming to take the punishment for all sins and give all people a way to be restored to God. Thus, Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus Christ, came. Jesus followed and fulfilled all the laws and commandments of God perfectly (something no one can do) and gave us the example to follow. Since the punishment for sin is death, the way prescribed to atone for sin was a blood sacrifice. God gave His Son Yeshua/Jesus as that sacrifice (he took the punishment for all the sins, past, present, and future) and made it that whoever believes in him, follows him, makes him lord of their lives, confesses and repents of sins, will be saved from eternal death (hell/hades). While Yeshua was walking on this planet, he had followers that he taught the ways of God too. They became his disciples, who would subsequently continue on the teachings of Christ, even after Yeshua rose from death into eternal life in heaven. 

All the new believers were called Christians, followers of Yeshua as their Messiah. This Christianity began as an outgrowth of Judaism and still remained the believer’s basis of their worship and knowledge of God through their understanding of the Tanakh, what we call the Old Testament. The early Church continued the Jewish traditions, as seen in their later writings (the 4 Gospels, epistles, and other texts that subsequently coalesced into what is now called the New Testament). Even non-Jewish people (Gentiles) who believed in YHWH God and saw Jesus as the Messiah were grafted into this worship. (There has always been non-Jewish people who worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the centuries with the Israelites as noted in the Old Testament. Examples would be the word “sojourner” in the Torah and many other references to Gentiles). Thus, the early “church” of believers in Yeshua gathered regularly together to worship Yahweh on the Sabbath and teach about Yeshua and his Way to others. 

For reference, I am not an Messianic Jew, nor do I hold to Hebrew Roots or Torah Observant religious beliefs. I will say though that I believe that the vast majority of modern church denominations and movements have drifted extremely far from the true roots of Christianity’s origins and beliefs. Sadly, in many circles, it has come to the point where they have even gone to the extreme of completely dismissing the Old Testament, or at the very least, have minimized the true intent of God’s plan for all people in how they should live and worship. The God of the Torah didn’t change the rules along the way. Nor did He delete the standing orders of how He is to be worshiped. Yeshua/Jesus never said that the old ways were done away with and we can now worship the creator God in a “new” fashion. So, when did it all get purged and whitewashed and become a homogenized new religion? At what point did the followers of Christ put away the teachings of the Torah and the worship at the synagogues on the Sabbath day (which technically falls on Saturday)? When did all this stop, and better yet, why? There is a lot of history that has been either ignored or erased that shows man has injected his own agendas and ideologies into the Christian religion. Being a follower of Yeshua Hamashiach, (or as it has been Anglicized as Jesus the Messiah), doesn’t change anything from the Old Testament, other than the temple sacrifices have been done away with because of Yeshua’s ultimate sacrifice. I say all this based on what I have read within the Scriptures and have studied from history. You can look it up yourselves!

We do know from history that the early church “evolved” to a point where the progressing early leaders wanted to separate themselves from the Jewish religion all-together. When Emperor Constantine was Romanizing the Christian religion, he created a council (Nicaea) in 325 to declare what the Christian religion was to “believe in”. Essentially by the 4th century, Judaism was purged from Christianity and the two were deemed “separate” entities…neither to be practiced together. But prior to this declared split by the self-appointed “leaders”, the believers of Yeshua were practicing the Jewish Torah and customs set out in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible…or “Old Testament”, as we call it in westernized society). It was also during the ecumenical council that they felt the need to separate the Jewish Passover and Easter (the crucifixion of Christ). Easter was severed within the “new” orthodoxy from its calendrical and thematic connections with the Passover. Also changed was the day of worship gatherings. No longer would it be on the Sabbath (Saturday) but instead on Sunday…just to segregate the two! In fact, it was through these “evolutions” that many of today’s westernized holidays related to Christianity were invented. It came to the point where you could not believe in Jesus and go to synagogue on Sabbath per the leaders of the “new” Christian religion. In fact, there was a lot of anti-Jewish (anti-Semetic) discourse and writings/sermons that came out of this time, such as Bishop John Chrysostom’s (c.349-407) sermon titled “Against the Jews”. Essentially, this chasm grew and grew between the Christian faith and the Jewish faith (the very Jewish faith from which it all originated from). With all the new declarations of what Christian orthodoxy should look like, it expanded and essentially became a whole new separate religion. 

Why am I sharing this Reader’s Digest Condensed version of church history with you? All this to point out something that so many people who proclaim themselves to be believers in Jesus Christ (who may or may not be active participants in the many modern Christian church(s) out there today) seem to be completely unaware that all the current denominations and doctrines and such that are part of the so-called Protestant (and Catholic) churches today were removed from the original church and purpose. Man decided they didn’t like what God had instituted, that it was too archaic. So, thinking that he knows a better way of doing things more than God, he changed what God had decreed. And it’s this kind of thinking that will cause God to give them over to their own passions and demise. Romans 1:21-25 says: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

These verses (and so many other warnings from God to man within the covers of the Holy Bible) are not just about lifestyles and the flesh…but they warn of how man’s self-righteousness and arrogance to depart from how we are to follow and honor and worship God will be man’s complete downfall and dismissal from God! God commands us in Deuteronomy 6:5-6 that “You shall love YHWH God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.”  And the part that many have ignored, or dismissed all together, is that God’s commands have not changed from Genesis to Revelation. The only thing that changed in history is what man has decreed for himself. If the Bible is God’s Word and is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then why did man deviate from it? If God declares that the grass may wither, the flower eventually fades, but the Word of the Lord will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8), then why have the assemblies and councils of men dismissed (large) portions of Scripture? Psalm 33:11 says that “the counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations”. Sounds like there isn’t a new “version” that God would be switching to because He sent Yeshua as a propitiation for our sins against His Holiness and His decrees! In fact, there really isn’t a “new testament” from the “old testament”, but rather a pre-messiah and post-messiah section of the whole of Holy Scripture! We accept the 10 Commandments, why do we dismiss all the rest of His commands?

As I have battled within myself regarding the issues of faltering faith these last several months, I thought that God, perhaps, had given me over because of my weaknesses and confusion. I couldn’t resolve the many red flags that kept cropping up as I tried to rectify and remedy myself to all the theology and doctrines I had studied over the many years. I knew something was wrong, and it didn’t help that the enemy took advantage of that to get me believing that I walked away from God, or that I was never saved, or that I was, per some theological stances, “predestined” to hell. Yet, now I am seeing that perhaps it wasn’t just me that was confused, (though disclaimer: I am still sorting out quite a bit here!) but that the current state of the accepted Christian religions in the world today are actually wrong. That history shows man taking liberties to change God’s decrees and laws and commands just to fit his own ideologies and narratives. Essentially, the vast majority of today’s Christian churches are following deviated orthodoxy that was created by men who were bent on removing the very Jewishness of God’s people and God’s Messiah, who was himself Jewish!  

With that, I am taking new course in life regarding Bible reading and believing. Since these are Jewish Scriptures written by Jewish believers that follow a Jewish worship decreed by YHWH God, the very God who gave us all a Jewish Messiah who had Jewish followers and disciples who all kept the Jewish customs and traditions and worship, and historically had grafted in the Gentiles who wanted to worship and study and believe in this very same YHWH God and follow the Jewish ways,, I plan on re-reading the Bible in its entirety, but without the man-made doctrines or theologies that I had been indoctrinated into believing up till now. I will be reading the Holy Scriptures with a first century Jewish/Gentile perspective as all this was intended from the very beginning. I believe that the Books will be more alive and enlightening to this soul that I could have ever imagined! 


To Be Or Not To Be…

If no beginning, then no end.

One of the worst things that combats our walk with God is the continual questioning and wondering. Though certain ideologies are claimed to be clearly implanted within the words of Scripture, we tend to read past them and doubt our faith and salvation regardless. Our frail nature creates within us a whirlwind of uncertainty that, though answerable from the Book itself, we tend to relish and dwell on failings and shortcomings to the point of souring our very hope of salvation from eternal damnation. From the simplest to the most complex methodologies of the saving process derived from interpretations of the Holy Bible the Christian salvation and subsequent life afterward have often created a downfall to many due to the confusion associated with differing opinions. One has only to read through social media debates on any topic of Christianity to see that the different views can create such a contention between the claimed believers…even to the point of hostility. Unfortunately, many people see this and can often be turned off becoming followers by these contradictions and views. Others have either walked away from the faith all together or have settled into a non-orthodoxy religion that mixes Biblical teachings, accepted social constructs, and humanistic ideologies just to ease the tensions within their own soul. 

I confess myself often a casualty of this war. From my non-religious and generic upbringings to deeply held reformed theological views to questioning the validity of all the claimed orthodoxies from every side, I have run a course of confusion and challenge that has hobbled my beliefs to the point where I’ve thrown my hands up in despair more often than I care to admit. And even though I have presented to you my gleaned understandings of Scriptural studies through various media these last few years, I find that everything is still in question, including my own “salvation”. For some this will come as a shock, yet for others this may be seen only as a season of challenge. And yet within still remains…no faith. 

Before the mob begins lighting their torches and gathering in the square for a public hanging due to heresy or blasphemy, let me speak in my defense. 

It is obvious to see that there are many “versions” of Christianity in the world today and each “version” claims they have the “gospel truth” at its own core. Within the walls of each religion lies their pre-ordained definitions of what is and what isn’t orthodoxy. Some churches have embraced a strict Biblical-only walk of faith and function while others have opened their doors accepting any and all definitions of Christian. Some would look at me as sinner destined to the gates of hell while others would claim my destination as heaven. Of course, the only true basis for what should be the definitive answer of how Christianity should truly be is based solely on the original source book…the Holy Bible. 

But, now we are back to the questions brought on by the many perceived interpretations. You may read a particular set of passages to mean one thing and others may see them through a different lens, and thus, the contentious battles that rage, the casualties that increase, and the vitriolic attacks upon one another. With these matters flaring between groups, it is no wonder that many walk away or struggle with doubts and uncertainties as to what is the “right way” to believe and how they should walk through this life under the religious banner of “Christian”. When people see such infighting within the proclaimed “church”, it creates either a hesitant heart or a coldness that turns them away all together. 

One of the main questions that has foundered my walk has been “am I truly saved”. Some will claim that once you say a prayer accepting Jesus as your savior, you are saved. Some add that baptism must accompany the prayer. Some say that all are saved no matter their lot in life. Then there is the repentance portion of the salvation process. Some will suggest if you repent (turn away) of sin and are baptized, that you will then walk in newness of life and have eternal salvation. Others will counter that repentance is a daily process that must be adhered to and that adding works is “un-Biblical”. Still others hold to “once saved, always saved”, no matter what you do after your admission into salvation. From terms such as “easy believism” to “works salvation” to “Lordship salvation”, the many views all state their case from the Bible and hold to the claims that “our way is right”. But is there only one right way?

Based on whatever style or path of salvation you may interpret as the correct one, there is the facet that some who come to saving grace and repent of their ways will display a “change” or newness of life. Examples would be the addict who finds Jesus and becomes clean from substances, or the violent person who finds compassion and is transformed, or the depraved whose life is converted into one of charity and love. These, and many more, are evidences that this newness of life has taken affect and turned the wayward lost to a new and directed path following Christ’s Biblical example. Yet most will agree, without evidence of change, without a turning away from the “old nature”, there remains the questions as to whether or not the conversion was genuine. Making bold declarations through words are just that…words. 

Many people will make proclamations out of an emotional rush. Often times people can get caught up in the moment of exhilaration from their surroundings that they flow with the masses and align themselves with the crowd. Perhaps an emotional tent-meeting causes an unsaved person to be swept up in the moment and they make declarations of asking Jesus into their life. But then over the course of the next few days, life for them is back to normal. Or, perhaps, in an instance of heartfelt duress one should make promises to God that if He helps them that they will commit their lives. Yet afterward their life goes back to normal. You see, there are numerous situations where verbalizing something doesn’t necessarily cause someone to newness of life and salvation. 

But, this is not to say that those moments can’t have the Biblical “happy ending”. There are many who make that commitment to Christ and walk boldly and succinctly from that moment onward. And though their life is still filled with ups and downs, many are clearly changed into a new creation and they live their lives afterward as a Biblical Christian. Though each life is different, many have a new heart that is desiring to serve the Lord, worship the Creator, and live their lives to the glory of God above through Jesus Christ. They passionately study the Bible and engage in a bible-believing church regularly. They are bold in their walk and don’t hide this new way from those around them. They are truly Christians. In these cases, the change is evident.

So, we can see that each person can have a variety of outcomes and walks. Many people have vast amounts of knowledge about the Bible and theology, yet without a heartfelt change in their day to day life. Many people have a true faith, yet though not desiring to deeply study the Bible, they live life with just their trust in God. Many are overwhelmed by the whole faith movement and shy away. And then there are others who just coldly reject the notion of an invisible supreme being.

There are also the people who have “chased” after God, seeking the salvation experience for themselves, and yet have felt nothing inside, no change. Oftentimes I can identify with them. They may approach the Bible with reverence, awe, and accept the Word as from God, yet might not feel or see any change within their life. Religious groups differ on the impact of the salvation process on a person and will either say that the truest religious experience is one of passion and emotion, or will claim it is only by strict adherence and obedience to the Scriptures that shows the fruit of the claim. No matter the view, approach, or process…we had best be certain that we get it right the first time through this short life of ours because there are no second chances.

One thing certain is that salvation defined should come from what God’s Word actually says. Since the criteria from which all of humanity will be judged is within the pages of Scripture, it would behove any who is pursuing the life-after in eternity to know what the Author of life and the Judge of creation has to say. One aspect it does clearly define comes from the very words of Jesus, Himself, who says “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt 7:21-23) Clearly, there is a definitive pass-fail based on these verses. It is imperative we know the right ways.

You can believe without truly believing. You can trust without truly trusting. And you can claim yourself to be something even though you may not be that something. Many go through the motions, carry on the facade, and display their life to some as they deem convenient. Yet in front of others they may come across as someone else. These “actors”, portrayers of characters, live a variety of lives depending upon who they interact with. This lifestyle is clearly represented by a vast majority of people who might attend church services on the Sabbath, yet live their life outside the church walls as “someone else”. These folks might be the type who claim themselves “holy” or “religious” under particular circumstances and yet not cast a single shadow in the doorway of a church. Essentially, these people are part-time Christians. 

But, based on what is written within the covers of Scripture, living the Christian life part-time (or even 3/4 time) does not meet the high demands of God. We cannot expect to glory in God for eternity when we did not give Him our full attention on earth. Nor can we expect God’s decrees to be “suggestions” that we can pick and choose based on our feelings at the time. I’m not expert in anything, but can say with certainty that no matter what avenue of salvation you see is right, this God of the Bible is an “all-or-nothing” God. You cannot expect to just include God part of the time in your life when it’s convenient to you and also expect His full mercy and grace. Going through the motions or verbalizing yourself a Christian does not cut it based on what the Bible says. Sure, you can twist or re-interpret various verses in an attempt to fit your personal narratives, but in the end who are you fooling? Those around you might fall for it, but I’m sure the God that created all things knows the truth. Are you fooling Him?

Yet based on these things, if we really looked around at all those claiming themselves saved and yet who might be living that part-time life, we could surmise that there are truly a lot less people that have a ticket bound for heaven than would appear on the surface. If part-time or verbal declarations don’t meet the criteria of God, then what does that truly mean for many of us? Well, there are only two paths out of this life; heaven or hell. No middle ground. No participation trophies. No sneaking in by the “skin of our teeth” by last minute saves. Again…this is an all-or-nothing God of the Bible. If most of us were truly honest with ourselves, we would discover that we might not be in that “elected”, destined-for-heaven, group. Instead, what we might find is that we don’t quite measure up or meet the criteria. In fact, we might discover that though “many are called, few are chosen”. And that is not just a generalized verse, but that it is a reality many of us need to think over very hard.

Personal evaluation, and even re-evaluation, is a very important thing that might carry eternal consequences for us. We cannot afford to be so arrogant as to what we “think” our lot will be, or should be, in the future. Many may think themselves bound for heaven and yet after an honest and deep introspection of our life we may discover that salvation truly hasn’t come like we think. Though we are challenged by doubts and questions on a regular basis, these might be the important prompts for us to take a hard look at the real you and compare where you think you stand before God versus where God says you stand. The task can seem very daunting and overwhelming to most, but like anything that is truly important, we cannot afford to waver or even dismiss this matter and just rest on our self-designed laurels. Everyone has a view, an opinion regarding religion, but we cannot afford to just follow blindly. Many are led astray because they did not take the all-important time like the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily to see whether those things were so.” 

The time is short. What I thought was, might not be. What I thought I knew, I really didn’t. I am not alone in this. We cannot have an ending if we didn’t have a beginning. 

And I Wondered

I crossed into the promised land. The land flowing with milk and honey. I was shown all the promises of God. His Word was ever before me. I knew the statutes, I knew the laws. 

And yet I continually looked to the pagan cultures, the pagan places, the very people that I was to push away…I embraced them. I held their ways in awe, revered their lives, and I envied their gods. I became like them. 

And then…I wondered where did my God go? Why did God forsake me? I cried out…where are my blessings? Why do I feel alone? I wondered about this as I continually participated in the pagan ways that I knew God had called me out of.

 When I left Egypt, I denounced the old ways and turned my heart to follow God and His ways. And yet, in my heart I still longed for the life of Egypt. My heart still lived in Egypt.

When I came into the land that God was giving me, I told God I would follow Him. And yet I blended in with the cultures around and embraced them. I lived among them and I was like them.

God’s Word was still there. His words never changed. But I did. 

And yet I wondered…where is God? Why has He forsaken me? He has left me to my own devices.

And I wondered.

Sometimes in life we journey a particular direction, and yet God sees fit to re-direct our steps just before we reach what we believe to be our destination. To some, this would appear to be God denying us blessings and happiness…specially in light of promises He may have made regarding those blessings. And yet, we get re-directed, perhaps even to the point of having to retrace our steps, causing us to think that we are going backward in life. Such was the situation of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and such can be the circumstances we may face in life today. So, why does this happen? One simple thought is that God has plans for us and we might need to be put on a better path instead of our own. That happens more than we may know, but that also shows us that God is walking with us and guiding our very steps and that He wants the very best for us! But another look might show that perhaps God is redirecting our life’s journey because we are fighting against Him by doing our own thing. God took the Israelites back into the wilderness right when they were about to enter into the promised land because of their disobedience and, well, quite honestly, their whining! 

In my previous podcast/writing called “Between Two Worlds”, I spoke about the issues people have when they try to walk between two worlds; the ways of God and the ways of man. The lure of this world, to fit in and enjoy the fun and excesses it has to offer, is a temptation that many easily embrace, including those professing to be Christians. And yet God is clear when He tells us to “choose this day whom you will serve.” And despite what many modern and liberal churches may claim, there is no gray or middle area that is acceptable to God. Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” This is a bold declaration that tells us we are either walking in the ways of God or we will be rejected in the end, and that rejection is to eternal damnation. Harsh, yes…but a reality that we cannot afford to waffle on. 

I also pointed out the struggles that the Israelites had with falling into the temptations of idol worship that the pagan people around them would actively participate. These types of activities that the people of God would involve themselves with not only angered God, who is a jealous God, but would also cause loss of blessings because of their actions. You can easily see the direct correlation that I am drawing here! In our lives, in my life, the Lord is illuminating the reality that we are to be a people who worship Yahweh God and Him alone. We can learn to identify the many idols that take away our devotion and worship from God when we take the time to look into His word and then look around at the things that we count as important in our lives. The bottom line is that living contrary to God’s commands is a losing venture. Though you may enjoy some temporal pleasures in the here and now, eternity will have a completely different result.

As I read through the accounts of the Israelites in the Old Testament, I can’t help but put myself in their shoes (sandals) and wonder how my faith would hold up under those circumstances. One of the most important elements in reading and studying the Scriptures is to understand the time and culture associated with the words. Looking at the Word through a 21st century lens will cause us to misunderstand key elements of teaching. We specially have the conflict of having a modernistic, westernized viewpoint to begin with that can skew our application of the Scripture’s teachings and its Biblical worldview. But when we understand the people and places and times that are displayed within the pages, we then see how God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! And most of all how God’s words and decrees are still applicable to us today!

God’s plan for humanity was to set apart a people, the Israelites, and teach them who He is, what He requires, and His laws or statutes. Essentially through these holy (set apart) people, God’s Word would spread to all nations so that even the Gentiles (non-Jewish) could be grafted into God’s redemptive work through His Messiah, Jesus. The non-Jews were brought in by the promises of God when He set aside His covenant with the Israelites because of their stubborn and defiant attitude toward God. But now that the Gentiles (us) have been given the hopes and promises of God’s eternal salvation through His son Jesus the Messiah, we also have the commands to honor and worship God and Him alone. 

Yet, so many walk this world without a thought of God, and, in the same manner, even those who say they believe in God and His son Jesus and yet live life under their own ways and means…just like most of the Israelites did. And you easily see where their neglect of God as their Lord got them!

The temptations that this world offers people today can be seen as more intense, more available, and more accessible than in Bible times. The advent of television, computers, and the internet has seen to it that people can readily access any form of sin they wish just with the push of a button. Yet even in Biblical days, sin’s lure was potent and drew many to their demise. The Apostle Paul had to write many times to the church he planted in Corinth to correct them for their “worldly” and “pagan” behaviors and practices…some of which even the pagans themselves condemned! And sadly, Paul, were he alive today, would be writing those very words to many so-called churches today…most right here in America…because you literally cannot tell the difference between the church and the culture around it. The command to “come out from among them” was not grasped by the Corinthian church, nor has that command been adhered to with many of todays “churches”. 

“Flee immorality.” Simply put, you cannot serve the flesh in the ways of this world and expect God to walk with you. Not only is the dishonoring of our bodies by fleshly lusts an abomination before God, but our willful drive to put self first in our day to day life is just as bad. The world embraces, and even pushes, open sexuality and fleshly desires just as the many pagan temples did back in the Biblical times. Nothing new under the sun here. But neglecting God and His decrees because you want to do things your way because it makes you “happy” or “feels good”, is the very thing that caused God to withdraw His Spirit from the people in Biblical times and that punishment still happens today. Having the “me first” mentality is the very issue that drove the people in Corinth to put self-pleasure as a priority over God’s decrees and, sadly, we see this irreverence to God and His Word even among the many self-professing Christians today. Truly a sad testimony to the very lost and pathetic people that are wandering this world without knowledge of God. 

How do we defeat the issues of “me-ism”? How do we fight the temptations that pound at the doors of our soul day in and day out? How can we stand against the waves of worldliness and selfish desires? Before any solutions can be implemented, we must first and foremost know who God is by knowing His Word. So many men and women all around the world have views and opinions as to who God is and how we should worship and follow Him, yet there is only one true source that we need to focus our time and studies on and that is the Word of God, the Holy Bible! It is in the pages there, God’s inspired complete Word, that gives us what we need to know about God, His son Jesus our Savior, the redemptive work that God has laid out for us, and how we can walk through this war zone with faith that He, alone, will bring us to our promised land in the end! Though the Word appears to be deep with complexities that some may think they cannot understand at first, it is important to know that our Lord has given to us His Spirit, that will illuminate the very Word to our souls and open our eyes to its truths! This we do with simple faith, like a child who trusts his parents for all things to sustain them through life. 

This walk might not be on an easy road that is evenly paved with clearly marked signs and directions. We might be on a path that has many hills and curves. We may be on the wrong road in life and need to turn around and go back to a new starting point. We might be traveling rough roads that have caused us deep pains and sorrows for many years. We might be in a position where we are totally lost and have no point of reference where to go. What I can tell you is that the Israelites as well as many believers in Christ Jesus have been exactly where you might be now. Each one of our current locations might be unique to us but, like the people before us who have sojourned through rough and hostile places, we can be assured that God above knows each of us personally and knows exactly where we are and how to get us on the road that He has for us to reach the Celestial City of Heaven. Our road map is the Holy Bible and our guide is God’s Holy Spirit! We do not travel this journey alone! We just need to trust completely in Him. We may not like some of the ways and means we go, but He does know the best way. He may be taking us down a particular path for a season and for a reason that we need! We have to just trust Him and stay focused on His Word!

Like those that have gone before us, we may have a tendency to think we know better. We might want to do things our way because it brings us instant gratification. We may think that we know a good shortcut through life. We may want to go a different way to experience firsthand the pleasures of the world along the way. But deviating from God’s plan for our life only brings us to ruin and misery. At some point God will let you go (give you over) to navigate this life by yourself. But one thing that is important to know is that you will never arrive to the eternal joy in the heavenlies by your own power. You will not be able to enter into the rest for eternity by doing things your way. Only God’s way will lead you to that peace and joy that He alone can offer. And only through God’s way will you be able to have peace and joy during the journey…knowing that God is in control for our best.  

The journey might be rough, difficult, confusing, and even completely different than what we thought was the better way, but we can know for certain that God will never leave you or forsake you. He will never put you in a direction that is beyond your capabilities with His help and guidance. God knows you. He says in Jeremiah 1:5 “before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” He also says in Luke 12:6-7 “are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” If God is for us, who can be against us? 

Therefore, we can take comfort in God’s plan for our lives by trusting in the salvation work of His Son Jesus, who took our place on the cross and bore the penalty for our sins upon Himself unto death, yet rose from the dead and lives today…defeating death for us! He sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us! Jesus said that no one comes to the Father except through the Son and that by putting our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can be restored to a rightful relationship with God! We repent of our sins, submit to God, resist the devil’s lure to sin, and walk in faith guided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God! By this only can we enter into the promised land!


When Obvious Isn’t Obvious

Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. — Ecclesiastes 5:1-2

Have you ever watched a small dog when they think they are about to get a treat? The energy build up in them looks like a rocket firing its thrusters, ready to launch into space. Their tail wagging so fast seems to match the speed of a hummingbird’s wings. Then there is the uncontrollable shaking, enough to match the effects of an earthquake on a bowl of jello. Next comes the little whines and moans that sound like a race car engine running at maximum RPM’s. Without a hesitant thought, they explode at the speed of light to whatever it is they desire, knocking caution aside! Impetuous little creatures! Yes, aren’t we all though?

I remember long ago hearing a sermon that mentioned several times how impetuous the Apostle Peter was. He was always the first to jump in with a word or action. He jumped out of a boat in the midst of a storm because he wanted to walk on water like his Master Jesus. He tried to correct the Lord on occasions when he didn’t like what Jesus had just said. He even got excited as that little dog when he saw the glory of the Lord at the transfiguration. He would just react in whatever fashion struck him in an instant!

Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. (Mark 9:2-9)

We all can have a tendency to react impulsively from time to time. Peter, James, and John (as well as the other apostles) had been sorrowful when Jesus said He would be turned over to the authorities to be killed. Jesus took the three up to the mountain to experience the transfiguration and show them His glory now, and yet to come. But, even after the crucifixion, even after seeing the future glory of their Master, they still had doubts of uncertainty. It was almost like they hadn’t listened and learned from their mountaintop experience. Later, James would write in his epistle that “everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19.) He seemed to be sharing a retrospectively learned lesson he gleaned watching Peter back on the mountain. 

Do we have knee-jerk reactions to things we encounter daily? Are we quick with a reactive word of retaliation or disagreement when faced with something that goes against our thinking or beliefs? Do we get down or angered when life isn’t going the way we think it should be going? If you answered no to any of those questions, I applaud you for being the most controlled, even-keeled, and level-headed human being on the planet! Because I, for one, have only one answer to those questions…an emphatic YES! Many times we react without having full knowledge of the facts. We jump to conclusions that could be wrong because we didn’t know the whole story or see the big picture. We take a little bit of information and “run with it”, as they say. More times than not, though, this can lead us down the wrong path or worse. We may end up anguishing over things that we don’t really have the proper information regarding. When we know the full story, have all the facts, see the big picture, then when things happen we are better equipped to handle in proper fashion. 

From birth to the grave, all our life experiences should be growing our understanding of how to handle things that might come our way. The more of life we experience, the wiser we can become at facing situations. Yet, it is important to also understand that what we come across in this world is not new. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes informed us that everything that happens in this world is not a new thing. He says; “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11) The old saying that if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it! But, all has happened before and will happen again.

So the questions arise: are we learning from these truths? Do we tend to (symbolically) keep putting our hand on the hot stove when we know that it will hurt us when we touch it? The chaos and evil we are seeing in the world today shouldn’t come as a surprise, so why do we continue to react in shock and anger when we see evil flaunting itself? (I personally claim my excuse as being short-term memory problems.) I think that many of us have that very problem more often than we want to acknowledge. But why? Why don’t we remember the learned experiences God gives us from the mountaintops?

When God illuminates us to a Biblical truth, we have a tendency to act impulsively or even shocked as we look around and see rampant sin in the world. Or, when we peer out through the lens of Scripture at this fallen world, which includes those establishments that claim themselves as “churches” that, yet, are readily embracing sin and rejecting God, we get frazzled and upset that there are people who act like…well, fallen people. We need to remember that even ideologies like hedonism, which was once thought of as evil extremism, is not considered by the world as extreme anymore. It has almost become normalized in this fallen world. Again, this shouldn’t surprise us anymore. As the darkness descends faster and faster, people have given up on eternal hope and now embrace temporal pleasures at all cost. This is nothing new under the sun and it has all been clearly pointed out before through the Scriptures. A friend once said to me that “this world is at its ugliest. I don’t even hear the birds sing as I used to.” Sad. But, again, since this is not something new, why are we reacting like we do? We end up getting worked up over things (and people) when we should already know that this is the life around us as shown in the Bible. We would all know this already if we had we paid better attention to God and His Word.

Part of the issue lies with the church and where the attendee’s have been placing their focus. I can say with near certainty that the majority of their attention is not on God and His glory. It is more often than not on themselves. Like the pagan worshippers of yesteryear, “churches” today are filled with consumer Christians. They have the “what can I get from God” and “God plus something” mentality, among other issues that are running rampant within their walls. I think that some of us are aghast by what we are seeing around us these days because God is awakening some who are taking time to listen to His Word. But for others, they focus their time, effort, and energy injecting themselves into everything other than God and His truth. They press hard to have their say in all matters, push their agendas into programs, keep everyone busy with busy things. Many tend to ask “why God” when looking for answers about the fallen world’s conditions, but don’t stop once to listen and learn from the One who sustains all things in existence. Even in prayer, their voice is loudest with requests, and even demands, to God without a praise or worship for all He has done. Essentially, this is called self-exultation.

How so many tend to forget the lessons from the past like Mary and Martha. There can certainly be a balance between being fed and serving. But for many, it is often too much of one thing and not enough of the other. Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” –Luke 10:38-42

Matthew Henry put it best when he wrote that “religious exercises are not vain things, but, if we mismanage them, they become vain to us.” There is nothing wrong with having a zeal to doing things, but we must remember that zeal and passion by itself will go terribly amiss. People are shocked at the condition of the world because they spend their time talking over God and not stopping to listen, reflect, and grow. When we focus our attention on God and His Word first and foremost, we then tend to have a deeper desire to know Him, love Him, and trust Him more in this fallen world. We learn that He does have all things under His providence and will, and as such…we take comfort and strength in facing the daily matters around us. We are not shocked or surprised when evil rears its ugly head, because we know that in the end of all things…God! As such, we need to use our knowledge and experiences along with our zeal and passion to strive for a corrective balance in our day to day life! We can worship and glorify God most by focusing on His Word and truth, placing them in our hearts. But, also still serve His Church by sharing His truth and tending to His flock. It is just a matter of where lies our priorities in the things we say and do!

Our flesh keeps getting in the way of our spiritual understanding and retention. I tend to trip over my own flesh as easy as tripping over shoe laces. We learn, yet so quickly forget. Peter, John, and James were exposed to a truth that should have solidified their faith and trust in their Messiah. From what they experienced, there should have never been a worry about the coming cross, knowing that on the other side was the redemption that all mankind desperately needed to have peace with God. Yet, impetuousness and worldly distractions caused them to miss key elements in their walk with Christ. Peter had zeal, but he lost focus with Jesus while worrying more on humanly matters. Even the vast majority of todays church have their priorities skewed from the proper goal. When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, we know that all things are taken care of by His hand. The storms around us are of no worry. We know they are coming, that they are here, but we rest in our Savior’s hands…He has overcome the world!

I personally need to remember that there will be mountain top experiences from God that should teach, encourage, and comfort me. But when I return back to the sorrows of this world, I need to remember His glory and be able rest in the truths I’ve learned. If I don’t, then I have to ask myself “what did I forget on that mountain?” The three Apostles saw the glory, yet when the sorrow storms hit they quickly forgot. Jesus kept saying that on the 3rd day He will rise, be raised up! We get a proper perspective of the lowlands from a higher point of view. Jesus gave them that. God gives us His Word to help us remember what our perspective can, and should, be. When we reign in our hastiness and our impulsive mannerisms and speech, we tend to hear His Word more clearly, know His will more clearly, and can glorify and worship Him more sincerely. God provides His Light and Truth to us on the mountaintops so we can survive the valleys. We just need to put aside our distractions, laying aside every weight and the sin that entangles us, and listen…to Him. 

God tells us in His Word in Isaiah 46:8-10 to “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’”. 

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 summarizes our duties proper saying “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” 


A True Christmas Carol

“That is no light part of my penance,” pursued Jacob Marley. “I am here tonight to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer.” -A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

“A Christmas Carol” is probably one of the most popular Christmas works of fiction that was written by Charles Dickens. It was meant to urge us to honor the “Christmas spirit” in our hearts and keep it all year round. A written way of encouragement to draw families close and promote the gift of giving to others. And, as much as I loved the story with its warmth of having second chances, I have to confess that, for me, this time of the season is actually the most annoying. I’m not trying to be a Scrooge in the sense of having disdain for others who are striving for joy and happiness, pursuing peace on earth, goodwill toward men, but that I am just plain sick of the commercialized facades pushed down our throats and the people who run around “celebrating” something they don’t even truly understand. They go through this “holly jolly” malarkey for several weeks, but by December 31st, they’ve packed up their holiday cheer and spirits and revert back into their normal day-to-day way of life.

Please note that my position for this message today isn’t to be captain negative. In fact, I had made a promise to share a positive message, and that’s what I want to do. You see, over the years I’ve grown to understand what this time of the year is really supposed to be about. That it is not just some cute baby story filled with animals and wise men or shining stars on a silent night. Because, you see, that part of the Bible story being told in the Gospels is not really the beginning of the story, nor is the story complete after the manger narrative. Yet, sadly, so many miss the beginning of the full story, the story that begins at Genesis 1:1 and finishes at Revelation 22:21. 

  • In the beginning, God….
  • The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.

It’s important to understand the baby Jesus’ full beginning. It’s important to understand why he came. And it’s important to understand what his ultimate goal was in coming. 

The Bible says that “all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)  Which brings us back to Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God…”

And from the end of the last book in the Bible, Revelation, we see the prayer for the “grace” of the Lord Jesus to be with us all. It is only by his grace poured out for us that we can even look to the heavens and worship the creator! 

So we see the beginning of the baby in the manger, the one who was from the beginning of time, that through whom all things were created! We see that baby next coming to earth in human form, yet also fully God. We know him as the one the prophet Isaiah said in 7:14 would be born of a virgin and his name would be Immanuel, which means “God with us”. The creator of all things coming to earth to walk among his people, to ultimately save and deliver them from the sting of death. And we also see Jesus as judge over all the earth at the end times. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 

We’ve been separated from God because of our sins. God is a righteous and holy God, perfect and pure, unable to allow sin. And our sin separates us from fellowship with God. And because we cannot remedy that problem ourselves since the only payment for sin is a perfect and unblemished sacrifice offering, God sent his son Jesus to die in our place and take the full punishment that we deserve. Jesus is pure and sinless, without blemish, thus fulfilling the requirements. And because Jesus did that, we now have a way back to God through the shed blood of his son, who paid the price, paved the way, and now intercedes before the Father for us. Essentially, before Christ was in our lives, if indeed we have received him a Lord and Savior, God saw us as filthy rags, unable to ever approach his throne. But if we have believed and received Christ as our Lord, God now can look on us through his son Jesus and we are declared right (righteous) before him! And that is the basics of the Gospel, the good news message! That is why that baby in the manger was so important. That was when God gave us the grace and mercy of his love. So, how did all this get lost in translation to get to our modern Christmas story?  

I am not going to get into historical narratives that have involved a multitude of transitions by various cultures that blended various rituals over the the centuries. Others have already researched and written multiple tomes about that very subject. I will state that the events of the birth of the Messiah though was something that Satan himself did not want to occur! And if the he couldn’t stop the plans of God, he would do what he could to remove, or at the very least water down, the significant truths of the birth of Yeshua, Jesus. That old serpent, the devil himself, easily affected the world’s view of the arrival of Jesus in the town of Bethlehem by detracting the truth of Jesus and getting the focus put on superfluous holiday things instead of who the baby in the manger really is.

In Matthew’s account, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph informing him that the baby Mary was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit of God and that “she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (cited from Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8,10).

Jesus (Jeshua or Yeshua) means the Lord is Salvation. Immanuel is Hebrew meaning God with us. So we have God who is not only coming to us, but also saving us through this very baby that was born in the manger. That, in and of itself, is worthy of more than a few carols and gatherings and gift exchanges! That is an event that we should all be in reverential awe of God’s grace and love to a fallen world! That is the cause for us to worship God with our complete heart!

While folks are decking the halls and dashing through the snow, there is a missed understanding of that baby and why he came. As yuletide greetings are exchanged as fast as children opening presents, there is a Savior being pushed into the background. And though people will busy themselves to attend their annual church commitment and sing Christmas carols to fill their moods with holiday cheer, few will remember the sermon soon after. 

But it is imperative that we push aside the world’s version of the holiday season and place before us the Biblical version of the season. You see, we humans like to commemorate various events in history as a reminder of the significant impact the event had on the world. We celebrate our birthdays or anniversaries. We note historical events and reflect annually of the impact they had. The Old Testament Israelites would observe various feasts and celebrations as a remembrance of God’s grace and mercy. The early church would observe annual events in the calendar that would mark the potential dates of historical events. We reflect on all these things with regularity but then move right along afterward to the next big thing. 

But with Christ Jesus coming to His creation to save us from our sins that separated us from eternal glory and to give us a “second chance” with God, we cannot simply look upon the manger scene as a blip in the historical timeline. Like Marley to Ebenezer, we too have been warned how to escape the fate of condemnation from our old nature. We have the opportunity to glimpse into the past, present, and future through the eyes of the creator Himself, Jesus Christ, through His Word, the Bible. Because God writes the whole story, we need to read it and know it and live it everyday…not just once or twice a year. This is a story that cannot be taken lightly. It is not one that can simply be brought out and decorated for a little while and then packed up and put away until next year…because tomorrow is never promised.

Having a second chance in life isn’t necessarily guaranteed, but if you’re reading this, you have the opportunity at this very moment to look at the child in the manger in a new light. That innocent baby we celebrate during this time of the year is actually the very God of the universe, creator of all things, and he will be the judge of all creation at the end times. His Christmas story is told in the very pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus said “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Jesus is from the beginning and Jesus is forever!

The true reason for the season is all we need in this life and for the life to come. We are to worship him not only once or twice a year on select holidays, but worship him every day of our lives! Even the angels of heaven declare “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And they also say “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

What child is this? Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus the Messiah! Receive him today as Lord and Savior and celebrate daily your newness in life through Christ Jesus! He alone can repair your past, he alone can give you a new heart in the present, and he alone can glorify you in the future kingdom of heaven! 


For prayer requests, or you just have questions and want to talk about this topic or other posts, please feel free to reach out to us at As we learn and grow in grace by God’s hand in our lives, we hope to share and encourage others to stay firm in the Bible and His truth!

May God richly bless you by His Spirit! -the team at Harbor Lights Ministries

To Contend

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 3-4

Change. That one thing that is constant. Look around and you see change in everything under the sun. Even now, nature turns it gaze from growth and green to death and cold. The time for change can be good, as in the trees and grass slumbering for a time before a rebirth comes at spring time. Change also has its follies and failures. Taking truths and changing them has consequences. From the magnificent changes such as seasons and times to minuscule changes that can mean either little or a lot, change must be always be attended too. 

There is a problem of great proportions in the world today. It is one that sweeps across invisible lines, affecting young and old, rich and poor, male and female. It permeates society and, yet, is perhaps one of the most over used, misunderstood, and often flippant expressions said by people today. That is the word Blessed!

I cannot express how sick I am of hearing people constantly using that word, thinking that anytime they get or have something they “want”, they are blessed. Or they’re so blessed because they have family or friends in their lives. No matter the declaration of why they are saying that they are “blessed”, it is used beyond excess. In other words, it really annoys me! 

But why? Why would people saying they are “blessed” be such an annoyance? To start with, most people don’t have a clue as to what the word even means. When you look up the definition, there are several adjective uses for it. And since the foundational beginnings of the word relate to sacred or religious meaning, the word nowadays is demoted to a platitude expression. I guess I could go on the record as saying that it’s use today borders on sacrilege. This is a change unacceptable! Unfortunately the so-called “church” of today, specially in America, has run the sacrilege flag up the proverbial pole to declare that God does nothing else other than bless. 

In Biblical perspective, since the first appearance of the word in Genesis 1:28, where God blessed Adam and Eve, the word has been solely pinned to a level of religious honor from either God to man, man to God, or man to man. But unfortunately, due to time changes, it has devolved into something that the vast majority of people today use it as a catch-all phrase that something good has happened to them. This once beautiful word has subsequently become something for self-serving, “look-at-me” people to spout off with. 

The word bless shows up in the Bible 133 times. Blessed is used 311 times. There are 81 uses of the world blessing, and an additional 27 times that blessing has an “s” on the end. 15 times the adjective blesses is used and blessedness makes a pair of appearances. In most cases, the words are invoking a request to consecrate, to make holy…passing on divine favor. So, to use the word in a callous, worldly way really strips the specialness of the gesture. 

Essentially, the true meaning of blessed has become secularized to the point that people don’t even have a clue what it truly means in a Godly context. In fact, the whole exercise of being holy, set apart…consecrated…has become muddied and diluted so much that the world sees true Christianity as nothing less than an archaic religion, devoid of truth and reality. And the saddest part of all is that the church has let it all happen by blending and melding with the world themselves!

These are the type of changes that have caused damage. When truths are distorted and not corrected, then those truths tend to be relabeled. They are deemed outdated. Relics. Ancient. Irrelevant. All words that many ascribe to Biblical Christianity now days. They now use terms like fairytales. Fiction. Myths. Fables. These are the current views that many have regarding the Bible. And again, this is often the view of those who claim themselves inside the church body. 

Most of this has evolved through changes in truth. Over time, the distortions have become accepted and the truth has faded into memory. Even though the absolute words are clearly together, unison in thought, written down for all to see, people have slowly, and diabolically redefined the Bible and its truth, piece by piece, concept by concept, until most believe the new view as right. And, again, this includes those who claim themselves a Christian church.

Jude had a bit of change in his epistle. He started out writing to discuss common salvation that was amongst the brethren, but was compelled by the Holy Spirit to address a more pressing matter. It seems that even back then, they were facing issues of people changing truth already! So Jude starts off by telling the folks to “contend for the faith” that was once for all delivered to the saints. The word contend is such a powerful word. It speaks of struggling against, or wrestling for something specific. As an example, since my memory isn’t the greatest, I have to contend with my memory in order to remember Scripture verses. In other words, this is an action that takes effort and time and strength to accomplish. Jude wants his readers to contend with their faith. Why?

Because in verse 4 he points out that certain people are infiltrating the church body and spewing lies and deceptions. They were teachers who twist truth, changing the Gospel, and leading weak believers astray. They perverted the truth! And sadly, this is still going on today! When you look at the vast majority of “churches” today, they all show signs and symptoms that they have changed the meaning of God’s own Words! They’ve replaced truth to become more “seeker-friendly” and essentially do what the people, the worldly people, want. And, we know from Scripture that people don’t want to follow God and His decrees!

Jesus said that if we abide in His word, we are truly His disciples and we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free! Obviously, there are many who have created their own truths by redefining or rewriting the reality of God and His Word to fit their narrative. They think that they can mold God into their narrative by altering or deleting the Scriptures. But the reality is that God doesn’t change. His word abides forever! You can say what you will about the Bible, but that will NOT alter His will and ways! 

The world thinks that it has out-smarted God by quenching His truth. Yes, many have been deceived by the devil’s works, but we don’t have to be in that count. The folks blinded by the world don’t see their way as folly. In Proverbs chapter 9 we read about the woman Folly and how she easily sways people who are “simple”, who don’t want to know and seek the truth.

The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house;
she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
calling to those who pass by,
who are going straight on their way,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
And to him who lacks sense she says,
“Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Her followers are told exactly where they end up. Hell.

This doesn’t just apply to unbelievers alone, but also to many belonging to today’s apostate church. And this is really an act of God. God did say in Romans chapter 1 that He would give them over to the lusts in their bodies, letting them continue to “live their best life now!” You see, the cleansing that is going on is actually a separating of wheat and chaff. We know that there will be many who will fall away. But their falling may not be into a realm of atheism or agnosticism, but simply belonging to a self-titled “church” that doesn’t teach the truth of God. It could be that church that espouses nothing but feel-good teachings, just like New Age shamans and pagans. The places that say “if it makes you happy, it must be good”! The groups that push out the negative of Scripture and only focuses on peace, joy, love. 

But we know from the complete Word of God that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” And as the world continues to redefine what is and isn’t truth based on their standards, they will turn an accusatory eye upon believers who still hold fast to the faith that they were taught from the Bible. The time for persecution continues to grow. And God is going to allow this to happen in the Church. 1 Peter chapter 4 says “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

But before that 17th verse I just mentioned, Peter says of this coming suffering “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”

With the downfall of true Biblical teachings, with the decline in faithfulness to God’s Word, and the willing acceptance of lies from the devil himself, we need, more than any other time in history, to stand fast, hold firm, contend, and be vigilant in our faith. We need to truly know what we believe and why. We need to put on the full armor of God to stand against the enemy of God. Knowing the truth, and knowing that the truth will set us free, is so key right now! 

We have been set free, no longer captives to the sin that plagues this world. Jesus gave us that freedom by His work on the cross and his overcoming the grave! His resurrection to the right hand of God the Father is our hope and strength for us to press on to the goal that is set before us! He gave us this gift of salvation, not to squander by conforming to the patterns of this fallen world, but to encourage us to contend to the very end!

I close with Peter’s great exhortation to the saints: 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Clear instructions. May we  stand firm, contending for the faith in our day to day battles! 


Don’t Be A Grape (Of Wrath)

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage
Where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning
Of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

The great Battle Hymn Of The Republic! Words penned by Julia Ward Howe in 1861 to rally up the troops at the early stages of the Civil War in America. The beginning stanza instantly creates images of the Lord’s return, as shared through the Holy Spirit to John in the book of Revelation. In chapter 14, we see the angels of the Lord harvesting the “grapes” for the wrath of the Lord.

[18] And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” [19] So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. [20] And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

God’s wrath. 

Something that is often times avoided in conversations is the reality of God’s wrath.  Sadly, it is seldom spoken of in today’s pulpits. I have to believe that it is because church leaders don’t want to scare people away from attending church. The people of today have turned from accepting harsh and demanding teachings to making  their own demands for soft and easy-to-digest therapy sessions. Yes, historically there have been extreme levels that the church took, when everything they presented was all hell, fire, and brimstone…a repetitive damning message that threatened everyone’s souls every day. But I have to agree with R C Sproul when he said that “people aren’t afraid of the wrath of God anymore, because preachers are out there telling people that God loves them unconditionally.” 

Most of todays’ teachings within the walls of modern churches are clearly unbiblical. The wide scope of Biblical topics within the covers of Scripture have been extremely diluted, or even removed, so much that His Word has become a flower garden of sunshine, rainbows, and soft, fuzzy kittens. The modern teachers will completely avoid anything in text that shows God executing His full wrath! And yet the Bible clearly has plenty to say about His wrath and judgements onto the earth…specially in the last days!

Christ’s return to earth is to be the complete and final judgement, a time to separate true believers and non-believers. Further on in Revelation we read in chapter 19, verse 15, that Christ will strike down the nations. He will “tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.” God’s wrath has been, and will be, a reality that should strike a fear within the hearts of people. 

There are two ways to define fearing God: fear of His anger and wrath (like a frightened child facing an angry parent), and fearing God with reverence and awe. Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10 both declare that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10 says The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts gain rich understanding. His praise endures forever! 

We can both fear God and fear God! But to those who have salvation through Jesus Christ, we can stand in peace from the fear of God’s wrath because we won’t be classified as a “grape” that will be tread upon in the winepress! But no matter if you are a Christian or not, all the people should be praising God right now for His patience with this world. 

We see in the Old Testament the level of God’s patience when dealing with Israel. We also learn from the historical records that His patience has limits. When even a chosen people of God, blessed above all nations, had to be judged and punished for their complacency and sins, that should be a warning to us Gentile believers as well that no one is exempt!

In Genesis 18, we read the account of God’s patience with the most wicked of cities at that time; Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s decree was to destroy those evil places by fire from heaven. But Abraham’s pleading with God to forgo His wrath for a time, so as to rescue the (the few) righteous people that are within the cities, delayed that destruction. God had even dispatched two angels to get Abraham’s nephew, Lot and his family, out of the city! But, this delay was for just a short time. God is patient, merciful, and yet, just. With this patience we do not want to make a mistake of thinking that God will not judge just because something doesn’t happen instantly!

In 2 Peter 3:9 we see that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Meaning we need to recognize that the time of His wrath could come at any moment. In the very next verse we are warned that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved”. There is a clear and definite absolute that the God of heaven is going to exact His wrath upon the earth and those who have thumbed their nose at Jesus and the gift of salvation will face an eternal judgement of damnation. 


That destination for those that reject the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ will not be a beach paradise and eternal party that so many of this world seem to believe. What is worse is that there are many people who sit in today’s churches that are on the list of rejection by the Savior. Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ The churches have grown exceedingly weak in their preaching and teaching of the Bible, thus allowing many to have a dangerous complacency and casualness in light of sin’s consequences. They are the people who look to have their feelings satisfied instead of satisfying the demands of God laws.

Without getting into a legalistic path, we do have obligations on our part to obey God and His Word. God has set forth His commandments within the Scriptures. Our duty is to obey them. Jesus even summed up the whole of God’s requirements in Matthew 22 by stating that “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the Prophets.” But if we examine our hearts and minds in the light of the Scriptures, we know that we fall short of following the commandments of God. After all…it says in the Bible that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

So, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What shall we say then? We are sinners. And sinners don’t get into heaven. In fact, God has a winepress of wrath readied! And His justice will be meted out when He comes on the Day of the Lord. Pretty scary stuff when you think that there are eternal consequences for our actions in the here and now. But thankfully, there is a way; a hope, that reaches down through eternity and gives us hope and peace from that wrath! But it is not something to be taken lightly!

You see, when people say a prayer to accept Jesus as their Savior, they need to realize that these are not just some magic words to bail you out of lake of fire. Nor is having a membership to a church or being baptized your get-out-of-hell-free card Being saved from the coming judgement will not be avoided by having several Bibles in your home or by doing lots of good things for others. All of those things are important, but they are not your salvation from the wrath of God. So many people can say a prayer, go to church, do good things, and yet still miss out on God’s call. People want all the gifts and blessings from God, but all without following God’s requirements. God doesn’t give His Word as recommendations. They are commandments! And it is a daily struggle, battle, and conscientious decision every moment of every day to chose this day who you will serve!

Salvation: A gift from God

Salvation from the wrath to come is one side of a two-sided coin. Salvation is a gift from God to redeem us from the punishment of our sins. But, there is responsibility on our part as well as we journey the new path. We have to strive daily. In Hebrews 3:6 it says “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope (firm to the end).

If indeed we hold fast in our hope firmly to the end. We cannot just make some gestures one day and then coast the rest of the way. We have actions do daily. We have battles to fight daily. We have changes to implement daily. We have to start and end each day with a checklist of commitment to God and His Word. 

Lip service versus actions. 

1 John 1:5-10 says:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

We must take action, every day. We have to walk the walk. We confess daily our sins to God. The word confess is translated from the Greek word homologeo which actually means of one mind. It means to speak the same language, agree with, acknowledge. When we confess, we are agreeing with the God of the universe who already knows our hearts and minds, who already knows our sins. We are telling Him that through the Holy Spirit illuminating us within, we recognize our trespasses against His laws. We plead through our advocate, Jesus Christ, who has already paid the penalty for the sins. And we repent of the actions by turning away from the sins. 

A daily battle, a daily conscience effort! And God gives us the strength to win by the power of the Holy Spirit! God promised that we who believe, when tempted, will be given a way out! We need to daily meditate on the Word, keep in prayer, trust Jesus through faith, and run the race with endurance!

There are only two paths in this life. Not three. The middle ground is also called “lukewarm” and is not a path to eternal salvation. The lukewarm folks are what populate most churches today. Unfortunately they will end up being added into the path inhabited by those who reject Jesus Christ. And all on that path are heading straight to the winepress. They will fall under the wrath of God and be cast into the lake of fire. It is very clear in the Bible. Despite what people might imagine how their god should act like, the God of the Bible will punish those who have violated His Commandments.

For those who enter in through the narrow gate, stay firm on the narrow path, and walk in the Light of God’s Word every day, there will be eternal reward in Heaven for their faith and steadfastness. Those who walk this path will be tempted, stumble, and encounter many pitfalls and snares from the enemy. But Christ has overcome the world! He is our guide, our strength, and our Savior! So be encouraged and trust daily! Never taking our eyes off the prize! Always doing the will of the Father!

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17