Archive for 2013

Christmas is Not My Holiday and They’re Just Fine

Year after year, family and friends struggle with our decision that we do not celebrate this Christmas nor do we give or receive presents.  A few relatives have accepted our decision and send their gifts at Hanukkah.  Others insist that everyone NEEDS Christmas presents and they show up in the mail.   Well, we don’t NEED presents!

Christmas is not our holiday.  It just isn’t.  It hasn’t been for over 30 years.  It’s just that simple.   Every year when one of my adult children tells someone who celebrates Christmas that they don’t, they are invariably asked, “How has that affected you?” making them feel like they have been deprived of something grandiose or that their parents are mean green ogres.

Now that they are adults, it has been interesting to listen to their responses to those who wonder about their Christmas-less-ness.   One said they ‘love’ this time of year because they aren’t stressed out like everyone they know trying to buy gifts, getting them wrapped and attending parties.  Another said she has enjoyed wrapping gifts at her job knowing she’s helping relieve some of the stress of those who do celebrate!?  Another one said, they’ve never really thought about what they missed because there’s nothing to miss.  The discussion segued into conversations they have had with different individuals and not one ever mentioned a spiritual connection to the holiday – not one. 

Now that there are significant others in the family, it has been interesting to watch their responses as well. When they learned about the ties of Christmas to Saturnalia, they are initially shocked. Because they have hearts to serve God, they are relieved they no longer have to take part in a pagan holiday. Though their families continue to celebrate the mass of Christ, they understand the roots of the holiday from cutting down trees to embracing a catholic mass and have chosen to ‘come out from among them and be separate.’ Unfortunately, there is still one whose soul is still tied to the ‘warm fuzzies’ which allows for the holy and profane to be in the home.

Though I know everyone who wishes me “A Merry Christmas,” means well, I wonder what they think when I say, “YOU have a Merry Christmas, our family does not celebrate.”  Generally from their silence, they appear dumbfounded.  They probably think,  ‘Who would be so humbug as to not celebrate this holiday of cheer?’  But then, I wonder how has not celebrating Christmas and all its trimmings affected the Jews? How has not celebrating Feast of Tabernacles, Hanukkah or Passover affected their children?

We have never felt comfortable about lying to our children about a hopping rabbit that lays chocolate eggs (?), a little lady with fluttering wings who steals teeth from them while they sleep or the jolly man from the north pole who flies a sleigh through the sky led by eight wingless mammals with antlers.  Really?  He comes down the chimney?

With the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, we realized that we would begin a subtle cycle of teaching our children lies. When they grew up and realized that each of these entities had been a make-believe sham, they would begin to question our authority in speaking the truth.  As parents, we wanted to set an example – a lifetime example.

The most important Truth to us is our faith in the God of Israel and the birth, life, death, resurrection and soon return of Messiah Yeshua.  To think that someday our children would doubt Yeshua as the Savior of the world and his Lordship in their lives because we fabricated cutesy games about other beings they couldn’t see, feel, touch, or hear was just not worth the price of their eternal life.   Lies are lies.  Not bearing false witness is a commandment.  There is someone other than mommy and daddy who can claim to be the ‘father of lies,’ but not us.

Some  may choose not include the Christmas clown and his reindeer in their holiday festivities because they honestly want to honor the time as Jesus’ birthday.  But was Jesus really born at Christmas? At one time we believed he was, but then we learned that is another lie based on the misconception that ‘we don’t know when he was born.’  When we were made aware of the timing of the Messiah’s birth through Scripture, we were honest with our older two children (4 and 2 at the time) about our own fall into deception.  We repented and removed that lie from our lives and began remember the birth of our Savior at the proper time on God’s calendar. 

For over 30 years, Christmas has not been our holiday and our children are just fine. In fact, they are better than fine. They are free from the bondages attached to a holiday that consumes time and money. More importantly, they are free from the ‘father of lies.’

©2013 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Christmas Myths and Idols

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (Mark 7:8).

The words above were spoken by Jesus/Yeshua. His words are just as true today for Christians as they were for the Jews in his time. Human traditions have become so ingrained in the hearts and minds of Christians, they have a difficult time seeing their own rebellion toward the commands of God.

Those who say, “God knows our hearts,” should be well aware that He does know our hearts and He knows when our hearts are behaving in ignorance or rebellion. We have no excuse. “God knows our hearts,” should bring ‘fear to our hearts’ because as the prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else and mortally sick. Who can fathom it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

When the Israelites sinned in the wilderness with a golden calf, God didn’t didn’t care that the intention of their heart was to honor Him. He cared that they had embraced the calf from the Egyptian culture, turned it into gold, and then declared, “This is a festival to the LORD.” It doesn’t matter what the ‘golden calf’ is, if it has pagan roots, it is an abomination to God.

“He [Aaron] received what they gave him, melted it down, and made it into the shape of a calf. They said, “Isra’el! Here is your god, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” On seeing this, Aharon built an altar in front of it and proclaimed, “Tomorrow is to be a feast for Adonai” (Exodus 32:4-5).

God commanded Moshe to melt down the calf and put the gold flakes into the water. Many Israelites died from the plague that polluted the water. God doesn’t change. What was an abomination to Him 4000 years ago is still an abomination to Him today.

“Adonai struck the people with a plague because they had made the calf, the one Aharon made” (Exodus 32:35).

The following Christmas ‘traditions’ have pagan roots that Christians have tried to redeem. Nowhere does God ever tell His people to redeem pagan traditions, but to “come out from among them and be separate.” He also doesn’t tell anyone to rationalize their sin. That is nothing more than creating a new golden calf and holding onto the ways of the nations.

The Christmas Tree

Myth:

“First of all, the fir tree is an evergreen — it does not die or fade away or lose its needles in the winter. In this sense it has soon come to represent the immortality of the resurrected Christ.”

Yes, the fir tree is an evergreen. It actually is the one tree that produces oxygen for humanity during winter months. As soon as it is cut down, it no longer represents life or immortality, it is dead, cut off from its roots. God is clear about ‘besieging’ trees.

“When, in making war against a town in order to capture it, you lay siege to it for a long time, you are not to destroy its trees, cutting them down with an axe. You can eat their fruit, so don’t cut them down. After all, are the trees in the field human beings, so that you have to besiege them too?” (Deuteronomy 20:19).

Myth:

“The lights in the Christmas tree also have a deeper meaning. Originally the lights used were candles, of course.  The candles too were meant to symbolize Christ, specifically his self-giving love and gift of life to us. As many of us know, the candle provides light and warmth as it consumes its own substance, the wax. So, too, did Jesus give of his own substance — his life — so that we might find divine light. And when we have found divine light for ourselves, we too are enabled through the power of the Holy Spirit to give of ourselves to others. After all, Christmas is the feast of love, where we share gifts with each other as Christ shared the gift of life with us.”

God has a lot to say about cutting down a tree and decorating it through the prophet Jeremiah.

Hear the word Adonai speaks to you, house of Isra’el! Here is what Adonai says: “Don’t learn the way of the Goyim, don’t be frightened by astrological signs, even if the Goyim are afraid of them; for the customs of the peoples are nothing. They cut down a tree in the forest; a craftsman works it with his axe; hey deck it with silver and gold. They fix it with hammer and nails, so that it won’t move. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, it cannot speak.
It has to be carried, because it cannot walk. Do not be afraid of it — it can do nothing bad; likewise it is unable to do anything good!
” (Jeremiah 10:1-5).

The Candy Cane

Myth:

“The most obvious symbolism used in the candy cane is its shape. Turned one way, it looks like a “J” for Jesus. The newborn Lamb of God was named Jesus, meaning Savior, because He was destined to “save His people from their sins.” Turned the other way, candy canes remind us of the shepherd’s staff. The first people to hear of Christ’s birth were shepherds guarding their flocks at night. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd and the Bible frequently compares the actions of the Messiah to those of a shepherd searching for his lost sheep, feeding them, gently leading them, and carrying them in his bosom.”

Compare to Matthew 1:21 where God named His Son, Yeshua meaning ‘salvation.’ There is no “J” in the Hebrew language. No one in the first century called the Savior, Jesus. His parents called him Yeshua, his brothers and sisters called him Yeshua, his disciples called him Yeshua, even those who sought to kill him called him Yeshua.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Yahweh saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)

Though the shepherds were the first to hear the message of salvation through the angels, they were unique shepherds. They watched the sheep for the Temple sacrifices. They understood the significance of the message more than just a reference to a candy cane. Yeshua is the Good Shepherd who came for the ‘lost sheep of the House of Isra’el.’ To denigrate the fulfillment of a long-awaited prophecy of the coming Messiah to a candy cane is not only foolish, but profane.

Myth:

“The sweetness of the candy reminds us that we are fed on the sweet milk of the Gospel of our salvation and peace.”

Psalm 19:9-11 speaks about the Word of God, the teachings and instructions of God that warn us and reward us. Though the commandments of God are compared to honey from the honeycomb, this is not the same as saying the word is ‘sweet’ like a striped piece of candy made not from bees, but from refined sugar.

When one is born again into the Kingdom, the new baby believer is fed the ‘milk of the Word.’ It is not called ‘sweet milk.’ Maturing from babyhood through toddlerhood into adulthood comes by eating the ‘meat of the word’.  The truth of this message is found in Hebrews 6:1-3.

“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Myth:

The hardness of the candy reminds us that Jesus is our rock of refuge. In rocky lands like Israel, people often sought shelter from their enemies in the caves or rocky crags of cliffs. Rocks also remind us of the solidness of the promises of Christ who is a precious cornerstone and sure foundation to those who follow Him, but a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” to those who reject His gift of peace.

The prophet Zechariah compares the hard heart that does not listen to the word of God to flint stone. The hard heart won’t believe the words of the prophets apply to them. The hard heart won’t accept that the Torah is for them, but is something ‘done away with.’ According to Sha’ul in Romans 15:4, “everything written in the past was written to teach us, so that with the encouragement of the Tanakh [Old Testament] we might patiently hold on to our hope.

They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the Torah or to the words that Yahweh Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry” (Zechariah 7:12).

Yeshua says that the people’s heart has become calloused, so much so they can’t see or heart or understand his words. Because of this callousness, they are not healed.

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:5).

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did” (Hebrews 3:7-9).

In the book of Hebrews, the Spirit of God warns about hardening your heart when you hear His voice. This is called rebellion. When King Sha’ul rebelled against God’s one command, the Spirit of God was removed from him and he was tormented by an evil spirit the rest of his life. God equated the sin of rebellion to idolatry. Thus, when a believer rebels against the very Words of God, it is to Him as idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23).

Santa Claus from Christianity Today

Myth:

“But what if Christians embraced the Father Christmas myth while rejecting the materialism attached to it? Myths, after all, are time-honored methods of communicating truth through story, and the Santa Claus myth is no exception. (Please, don’t tell me his name is an anagram for Satan. Santa comes from the Latin sanctus, meaning holy or saint. Santa’s name likely evolved from a real person, Nicholas, a Christian man whose extreme generosity helped strangers.) I’d like to propose that teaching children about Santa Claus does not conflict with teaching them about Jesus. In fact, I propose that the Nativity story and the Santa myth may have more in common than we’re prone to believe.

Myths. Mythology is always rejected by Christians even though pagan gods and goddesses are mentioned throughout the Scriptures. Tammuz, Ishtar, Ashtoreth, Dagon, Artemis, and Jupiter (Zeus) are just a few worshipped by Isra’el as well as the nations to whom Sha’ul took the message of salvation. To suggest Santa Claus is a myth is to put him into the false god category of the Bible, which ‘Satan’ Claus is. After all, Santa is omniscient (he knows if you’ve been good or bad), omnipresent (he sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake), and omnipotent (and he has the power to give you good gives or coal).

Sha’ul (Paul) has some strong words for Timothy regarding myths.

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7).

Myth:

“Some stories, such as fables and parables, are not empirically true, but they are true in that they point to realities about God’s world and the human condition. Some stories are empirically true and also communicate this kind of truth. The Nativity story is a perfect example of the latter. The Santa Claus myth is a great example of the former. Santa Claus embodies Christian values such as kindness, generosity, forgiveness—every child soon realizes that even if they have not been perfect all year, Santa comes through. Santa brings gifts to children both deserving and undeserving. While Santa is not a Christ figure—that must be clear—the Santa myth is not the problem. The problem is that we have let advertisers hijack Santa, turning Christmas into a retail event.”

Again, Sha’ul reminds Timothy what will happen when people turn from sound doctrine and the Truth for myths.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Sha’ul tells Titus to rebuke those who have fallen into myths. He says Jewish myths, but Christians have created their own myths to satisfy their own itching ears. Though they are given sound teaching and rebuked, they choose to adhere to human traditions and reject the truth.

“Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth” (Titus 1:13).

©2013 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

A Chat about Voodoo

Recently I had lunch with a woman who shared with me that she makes and uses voodoo dolls.  She explained that she believed because people have inherent powerful energy within their minds, they can transfer this energy to others through objects such as dolls.  I listened politely to her tell me how one time she attacked her husband by poking a doll in the knees.  For weeks he had knee pain and couldn’t walk.  She had not intended for it to be so debilitating and was somewhat shocked with the intense consequences, but did not regret what she had done.

When she was finished, I explained that she was not using mental energy, but demonic spirits.  She listened as I described the origination of these disembodied spirits as being the remnants of the Nephillim from the time of Noah’s flood.  I further explained that these spirits have power and want to control people.  I revealed to her that we can have victory over these demonic spirits only through Yeshua, the Living God.  I told her  that I had written a book about spiritual warfare, something she had never heard of. Though she didn’t renounce her practices and I’m pretty sure she won’t, she admitted she had never thought about demonic spirits being involved in her practices.  Even the demons believe and shudder!  This woman is not a follower of Yeshua, but she is no different from those who call themselves believers, yet do not understand the power of the demonic realm and how it has infiltrated the church through movies and television corrupting Biblical Truth.

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

The Sons of Israel

These are the Hebrew Word Pictures for names Jacob/Israel, Rachel, Leah and their 13 children (12 sons and one daughter).

Jacob, the Father

Jacob (Supplanter)

Hebrew,  Ya’akov or יעקב

Yod, Ayin, Kof, Bet – ‘seen as the least in the house’

Israel (Overcomer) – Hebrew, Yisra’el or ישראל

Yod, Shin, Resh, Alef, Lamed – ‘hand destroys the first shepherd’

Rachel and Leah, the Mothers

Rachel (Ewe, female sheep)  Hebrew, Rachel or רחל

Resh, Chet, Lamed –  ‘head authority in the inner room’.

Leah (Weary or tired) –  Hebrew Leah or לאה

Lamed, Alef, Hey –  ‘behold the first strength’.

Leah gives birth to six sons and one daughter.

Twelve Sons of Jacob – The Tribes of Israel

1. Reuben (See, a son!) – Hebrew, Reuven or ראובן

Resh, Alef, Vav, Bet, Nun – “head strength is secured to the house of life’

Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob.

2. Simeon (Hearing) – Hebrew, Shim’on or שמעון

The root is related to the word, Shema or Hear.

Shin, Mem, Ayin, Vav, Nun – “consume the chaos the eye ties to life”

3. Levi (Joining) – Hebrew, Levi or לוי

Lamed, Vav, Yod – “shepherd joined to the hand”

4. Judah (Praise) – Hebrew, Y’hudah or יהודה

Yod, Hey, Vav, Dalet, Hey – “behold the hand bound, behold the door”

9. Issachar (Hire, reward) – Hebrew Yissakhar or יששכר

Yod, Shin, Shin, Kaf, Resh – “hand consumes doubly, allowing head”

10. Zebulun (Living together) – Hebrew Z’vulun or זבולן

Zayin, Bet, Vav, Lamed, Nun – “house weapon that ties shepherd to life”

Daughter, Dinah (Controversy over rights) – Hebrew Dinah or דינה

Dalet, Yod, Nun, Hey – “finished work of the door (hand) behold life’

Bilhah, the maid of Rachel, gives birth to two sons.

5. Dan (Judged) – Hebrew, Dan or דן

Dalet, Nun – “door of life”

6. Naphtali (My wrestling) – Hebrew, Naftali or נפתלי

Nun, Peh, Tau, Lamed, Yod – “life flows from the mouth sign of the shepherd’s hand’.

Zilpah, the maid of Leah, gives birth to two sons.

7.  Gad (Good fortune) – Hebrew, Gad or גד

Gimel, Dalet – “raised up at the door”

8. Asher (Happy)- Hebrew, Asher or אשר

Alef, Shin, Resh – “first consumes the head”

Rachel, gives birth to two sons

11.  Joseph  (May he add) – Hebrew, Yosef or יוסף

Yod, Vav, Samech, Peh – “hand ties and supports mouth (like a beginning river)”

12. Benjamin (son of the right hand), Hebrew Benyamin or בנימין

Bet, Nun, Yod, Mayim, Yod, Nun – “house of life is finished (closed hand), chaos of life is finished (closed hand)

Putting the Hebrew Word Pictures of the children of Israel together:

The strength of the shepherd is secured to the House of Life.  It consumes the chaos that binds the eyes to life.   The shepherd is bound (by nails) the finished work.  Behold the finished work, the nails, the door, behold.  The door is life.  Life flows from the mouth (words), a sign of the shepherd’s finished work and raises up the pathway.  Strength consumes the head, but the hand allows the the finished work to be the weapon of destruction securing the shepherd to life.  The finished work supports the words.  The House of Life is finished; the chaos of life is finished.  Behold life, the finished work of the hand, the pathway.

©2013 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.For a hard copy of this Torah portion or the complete cycle, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

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