Saturday, December 08, 2007

Festival Notes: Purim Activities, Crafts, Books

Here is what I started months ago. The links may or may not work. I still haven't figured out how to get blogger links to work in my posts. Enjoy!:

It is a tradition to make food packages for at least 2 people on this day.

I found some books recommended on one page, and our library has them! I don't know if they are good or not, so this is not a recommendation. Always read things yourself before reading them to your kids!
Esther's Story, Diane Wolkstein and Juan Winjngaard (the library has it in audio form too!)
Purim Play, Roni Schotter, Marylin Hafner
Cakes & Miracles: A Purim Tale, Barbara Diamond Goldin
Festival of Esther: The Story of Purim, Maida Silverman
Make noise, make merry: The story and meaning of purim, Miriam Chaikin (90 pgs, for older kids)
The mystery bear: A Purim Story, Leone Adelson
On Purim, Cathy Goldberg Fishman

Queen Esther saves her people / Rita Golden Gelman
Queen Esther the morning star : the story of Purim / Mordicai Gerstein.

Here are some crafts for Purim use:
Kids Craft Weekly - princess
Milk Carton Grogger - Use a 1/2 pint or pint paper carton from milk or orange juice. Rinse inside and out and let dry. Fill with small beans enough to make some noise. Tape shut. Decorate the outside with construction paper, tissue paper, foam art sheets what ever. Popular designs are of course: Kings with cotton ball beards and Queens with Foil paper crowns. But you can even make a man with Triangle Black Hat for the bag guy. (We don't want to say his name!)
Plastic cup grogger: Grogger can be made from any container filled with unpopped popcorn or beans. Two plastic cups, face to face, filled with corn or beans, and taped together, works well.
Shrinky Dink art (you can buy it, or I've heard you can use #6 plastic), jewlery, kings, queens
Origami Haman's Hat

Festival Notes 6: Purim

This last year was the first time I had even heard of Purim. I don't think I even really got it until I was there. It is a lighthearted festival really, but it is a serious story. Other then the local gathering to read Esther and dressing up, I am unsure of how to make this a part of our life. Here comes some research!

  • Translation: "lots," for Haman's superstitious casting of lots to pick the right day to destroy God's people
  • Biblical name: same, Purim
  • Reference: Esther 9:17
  • Jewish Date: 14 Adar (12th month, this is a leap month, so when that occurs, Purim is celebrated during the 2nd month of Adar, a month before Passover)
  • Gregorian Date (2008): March 21 (sunset 20th to sunset 21st) [from]
  • Sabbath? No, but tradition goes that in honor of the celebration, it shouldn't be an ordinary day
  • Festival Traditions:
    • Be joyful
    • No mourning or fasting (except the day before, to commemorate Esther's 3 day fast)
    • Read entire book of Esther as a congregation
    • Wear costumes
    • Games and prizes (this might just be at our congregation :0)
    • Ashkinazic Jewish traditional food: hamentaschen, little 3 cornered p0cket pastries depicting Haman's hat
I think this is a pretty straight forward festival. All you have to do is read the book of Esther to know what it is about. But I like that the Jewish people make a point to celebrate the times God has delivered them. They even have a day that they remember The Holocost. Actually, I read at that it is a tradition to have a Purim Katan, or little purim, on any day where a community was saved from "a catastrophe, destruction, evil or oppression." To remember the triumphs of God, and to remember that it is He, not we, that overcomes this world, that is something to hold onto.

A while ago in an adult sunday school class, we were discussing how to prepare kids for the evil they could experience should we come under severe persecution (the class was on Islam and their "love" for the Jewish people and the followers of HaShem). While there is no way to really prepare, especially when we have never been through anything remotely like persecution, I think each parent can make sure that stories of God's triumph and protection of His people, such as Esther, are stories their kids know. And know well. Even if we perish, we know He will redeem His people from the hand of the enemy. He has done it over and over, and made sure it was recorded. Hey, remember, He already won The Battle! In Yeshua, our soul finds rest. The rest will perish someday anyway.

I think it would be fun to create costumes each year (if not new ones, additions to the old), make the little pastries, and make the story come alive for kids. It could even be a good time to go through the history of the persecution of the Jews, biblical and afterwards. Maybe reading through the story in the week before would be good, as hearing it all in one day is a bit overwhelming for adults, let alone kids. That way when it came time to the community reading, they can anticipate the booing and cheering, and maybe reflect on the meaning of the story. God preserves His people, whether we can see Him in action or not.

Festival Notes 5: Hanukkah traditions

So, with Teeny Tiny being a bit over 1 year old and just finding out Baby #2 is on his or her way, I am feeling frustrated with myself. Yet another holiday is halfway over, and I have done very little.

My Favorite and I sat down a few days before Hanukkah started and discussed what we could do. It was a conversation filled with my tears over the emotions I have with letting go of Santa and Christmas trees. The bottom line for me, I know what they stand for and I desire to honor HaShem more then my memories. But my memories are so strong! And they are attached to my family, who completely don't understand any of this. Nor will they unless Ha Shem grants them sight. Please Father!

That was a Friday ago. Hanukkah started Tuesday, and the worst flood that has ever hit this area came Monday. Since we evacuated our home near noon Monday and weren't able to get back in until Wednesday, I am trying not to be so hard on myself. I'm sure pregnancy hormones are not helping. Baruch HaShem, our house is fine. A little water under, a little water in the garage, but whole pumpkins still sitting on the porch. Did I mention I'm a little behind this year?!

Here are some ideas we had and/or gathered:
  • Creating 8 envelopes with different activities for each night (from
    • Reading books from the library
    • Only eating potato latkes and special donuts during this week
    • Making decorations the day before or the first day of hanukkah
    • Making menorah cards for our home group (we did this last year and hope to make it a tradition)
    • Inviting friends and/or family
    • Dreidel:
      • I thought it might be fun to earn gelt in the days or weeks leading to Hanukkah by family members noticing the things one another do right/good/well. Not sure how this would work with the idea of not doing things to be seen...but it is a work in progress
    • A scripture a day maybe?
We would like to home school our children, so these envelopes could have a scripture reading, a fun book reading, a craft, a good deed, and a food per day. Maybe a game. Some things we do as a family when my Favorite gets home, others to do throughout the day. Does that show how ignorant I am of what is possible or sane to accomplish in one day? :0)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Festival Notes 4: Dreidel, dreidl, draydel...

Or in Hebrew, sivivon, apparently. This is our 2nd Chanukah coming up, and last year we only participated a few nights. That was because it was then that our wonderful home group/Torah Club leader and her husband (now pastor!) surprised us with a hanukia and FFOZ's book about Hanukkah.

Last year, even while at the party where we were given such generous, thoughtful gifts, I was still unsure about Chanukah. This year, well, I need to re-read some of that stuff we read last year :0) There are so many things going on in my head. First of all, I want to honor HaShem with everything. But I grew up with Christmas, have so many wonderful memories, and can't get them connected to pagan traditions in my heart. My head understands, my heart follows, but my emotions pull at me. I can't really explain it. Anyway, I'm shedding my pagan layers of traditions and it is a bit of a grieving process with this holiday for me.

So, what does all of this have to do with the dreidel, you ask? I am sad to be leaving behind my families traditions (thrilled and thankful for an opportunity to honor my Master, however) so I want to be good and sure I'm not adopting new, pagan traditions.

Here is what I have found:

There are many stories of what the significance and origin is of the game. And then multiple variations on those stories. One story is that when the Syrian's were attempting to keep the Jewish people from studying, the Jewish people would instead hide their study material and pull out the dreidel so it looked as if they were just playing a game. ( variation on that theme is that children would play with the dreidel outside the houses where people were studying. It gave the kids a viable reason to be there in the eyes of any approaching Syrian, and gave the families a chance to be warned so they could hide their studying before being caught. (random site).

I appreciated this quote, from above mentioned random site:

There is a midrashic explanation of the meaning of the dreidel that holds that the four letters on the sides of the dreidel represent the four kingdoms which attempted to destroy Israel in ancient times, but which passed away from history, while Israel is still alive and well. They are, according to the letters on the dreidel: NUN (Nebuchadnezzar/Babylonia); HAY (Haman/Persia); GIMEL (Gog/Greece); SHIN/SIN (Se'ir/identified with Esau and hence with Rome). Although this explanation is midrashic in nature and does not explain the origins of the dreidel, it is an explanation very much in keeping with the history and theme of Chanukah.

But it looks like this is really a gambling game from 16th century England, Ireland or Germany called "totum" or "teetotum". But then, dreidel is a gambling game, so there you go. Hmm, now I just read a tid bit from the History Channel and they say the Jewish people have been playing this game since the time of Antiochus, which was before the Maccabees revolted. As I continue reading, I find this on a few sites. However, so far, no pagan connections. And I have read so many (not necessarily credible) sites that my eyes are blurry.

Now, I hadn't thought about gambling and how that is honoring or not to Ha Shem. That is for another post I guess!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Festival Notes 3: Why Tashlikh?

We didn't participate in the Tashlikh or Tashlich tradition this year because we didn't really get it, it was late at night, I'm lazy, and I had heard there is some thought that it came from pagan practices. So now I'm doing my research.

  • Translation: "casting off"
  • Biblical name: it is not present in the bible
  • Reference: Micah 7:18-20
  • Jewish Date: Tishri 1 (7th month)*
  • Gregorian Date (2008): September 30 [from]
  • Sabbath? not applicable (this isn't a festival, but a tradition during a festival)
  • Festival Traditions:
    • Throw breadcrumbs into water

This isn't a festival, just an activity or rite that has become a tradition during Rosh HaShanah. As far as anyone knows, it didn't show up until the Middle Ages. It is not a biblical command, but was apparently derived from this verse:

(B)Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
(C) for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
(E) he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
(F)[a] You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
(H) as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.
Micah 7:18-20

Here is the brief description from Wikipedia, "Tashlikh (Hebrew: תשליך, meaning "casting off") is a long-standing Jewish practice performed on the afternoon of Rosh HaShanah. The previous year's sins are symbolically "cast off" by throwing pieces of bread, or a similar food item, into a large, natural body of flowing water."

The issues people have with it apparently come from the Kabbalistic practice of shaking off the hem of your clothes to shake off any clinging demons. Again according to Wikipedia, people who did not agree with Kabbalistic things were concerned that the general public would think that you really got out of your sins by shaking off the demons, and not from repentance (and I would add "and the atoning work of Yeshua"). I could see that happening. Thankfully we know Yeshua shook them off for us and took the keys! We'll have to pray about whether or not we take part in it next year.

Another site mentions that it was a pagan practice to appease the gods of water by throwing gifts into them. That would also explain why the leadership was concerned that those around them who had pagan backgrounds would think the bread throwing was enough to get off the hook.

I couldn't find anything on First Fruits of Zion's site, but I did find an article on one of their writers sites. I appreciate his explaination of it from a Messianic perspective:
"As followers of Yeshua, and those who have come to believe that only through His death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession as our High Priest can sins be atoned, we realize in the ritual of Tashlich that it is God’s work, not ours. Surely we are required to repent, but even this is given to us by His gracious hand (cf. Acts 5:31; 2Tim. 2:25). Thus the ritual of Tashlich is yet one more tangible expression of our faith, that our own sin, which would condemn us before the bar of God’s unflinching justice, is entirely and forever removed from us through the gracious and sovereign work of God’s cleansing through sacrifice and life of Yeshua."(To Tashlich or Not to Tashlich?)

And he puts the need to research the origins of a tradition so well:
"Some have claimed that this is the case, and that Tashlich, like much of Christmas and Easter, partakes of a syncretism that mixes things that essentially differ. Such a warning is valid: if, indeed, the Tashlich ritual is simply a reworking of a pagan ritual, then we should divest ourselves of it. God has given us His ways of worship—we don’t need to borrow anything from the world of the demons." (emphasis mine)
His conclusion? There isn't enough proof to link it to pagan origins.

My conclusion? Still need to pray and talk to my Favorite.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Festival Notes 2: Rosh HaShana

This years (2007) Rosh HaShana has just passed, starting us into the Jewish year 5768. I'm still a little confused about the Jewish calendar, because the rabbi's made this the beginning of a new year, but thankfully didn't change the number of the months. So the new year begins in the 7th month.

Wait, I just read some more. I'll just quote the site I got the info from. "Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when the year number increases)" and "Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar." [from Judaism 101] Nissan corresponds to the Gregorian months of March and April.

Rosh HaShana
  • Translation: "Head of the Year" or "First of the Year,"
  • Biblical name: "Yom Ha-Zikkaron" (the day of remembrance) or "Yom Teruah" (the day of the sounding of the shofar) [from Judaism 101]
  • Reference: Leviticus 23:24-25
  • Jewish Date: Tishri 1 (7th month)*
  • Gregorian Date (2008): September 30 [from]
    • REMEMBER: That is sundown September 29th to sundown September 30th
  • Sabbath? Yes
  • Festival Traditions:
    • Don't work!
    • Sound the shofar (rabbinical rule: not if it is Shabbat)
    • A time of reflecting on what was done wrong in the last year while making a plan for change for the next; REPENTANCE
    • Beginning of the 10 Days of Awe/Repentance (ends on Yom Kippur)
    • Eat apples and bread dipped in honey
    • Tashlikh or "casting off" of sins/breadcrumbs
* Because Rosh HaShanah is on the 1st of the month and the Sanhedrin used to have to determine when each month began by watching for the new moon, outside of Israel this is a two day festival. It took at least a day for the Sanhedrin messengers to let everyone know that the new month had started. Judaism 101 has a good explanation. They didn't mention if it is a Sabbath from work both days or not.

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (AA)(A"Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the LORD."
Leviticus 23:23-25

Most suspect that this is the day Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ) is to come back. For instance:

(A)(B)Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (C)(D)in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (E)For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (J)(K)(L)Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

"Immediately after(A) the tribulation of those days(B) the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and(C) the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then(D) will appear in heaven(E) the sign of the Son of Man, and then(F) all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and(G) they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven(H) with power and great glory. (I)(J)(K)(L) his elect from(M)(N)And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:29-31

Festival Notes 1

This is the begining of my festival research. I know there is a ton of info out there, but sometimes I need things put together in my own way to really get it.

My current list of festivals:

Rosh HaShana
Yom Kippur
Simchat Torah
Yom HaShoah

I would like to gather this info on each plus a lot more :0)
  1. Hebrew name
  2. English translation or traditional English name
  3. What the name means
  4. Hebrew date of Festival
  5. General solar calendar date of Festival
  6. Is it a Sabbath?
  7. Scriptural reference
  8. Do's and Don'ts, biblical and traditional
    1. Food
    2. Clothes
    3. Activities "allowed"
I am totally aware I can probably get all this info on wikipedia, but I'm simply gathering my thoughts.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cascading thoughts 1

So, as I was writing the last post, more thoughts kept coming to me. But I didn't want to drag that thought out into too many rabbit trails!

I was using a portion of a section from Matthew 7 about Yeshua not knowing the workers of lawlessness who thought they knew Him. It is a teaching about being aware of false teachers and the road leading to life being a narrow one. It ends with this verse:

(AO)And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Matthew 7:28-29

I always read that as proof that the scribes were worthless people who were so caught up in "deeds" that they were far away from God and had no real authority. When I read it this time, I saw something different. Notice what Yeshua says a few lines up:

24(AL) "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like(AM) a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like(AN) a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

He doesn't say whoever follows God's words. He says "everyone who hears these words of mine and does them..." The scribes never would have taken that kind of authority. If I remember right, they were teachers of the law, helping those around them to understand God's authority. Yeshua was God.

The point of that last verse wasn't to show the inadequacy of the scribes as worthless religious men, but to show the obvious authority, power and anointing of ha Meshiach. If it is to be taken as the inadequacy of the scribes, it would have to be applied to all teachers of the word, not just Jewish ones. And compared to Messiah, no matter how much of the law teachers or leaders keep or don't, they are and will always be inadequate.
The Authority of Jesus

Biased translating?

For me, this has been the hardest part during this time of God opening our eyes to the full truth. The translating errors and additions that are so apprent when I take the time to look into them.

This morning I read this verse on one of my fav blogs:

But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of his kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions.”
(Hebrews 1:8–9, quoting Psalm 45:6–7)

I am overly aware of the use of "law" and "lawlessness" these days as my King has given me a greater understanding and love for His law as something good and holy, not bondage causing. So when I read "you have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness" I thought, "hey, I never noticed that!" And here is why:

But of the Son he says,

"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions."
[same verse, English Standard Version]

So I went to to look at the interlinear bible. I'm learning not to take anyone or any translation at face value, hopefully not to a fault :0) They use KJV, so the phrase is "hated iniquity." I clicked on iniquity and here is the definition it gave me:
  1. the condition of without law
    1. because ignorant of it
    2. because of violating it
  2. contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness
The word "wickedness" that ESV used does not conote the same thing AT ALL. Wickedness to me is something really bad, but I don't necessarily connect it to God's law in the sense it looks as if it should be. In the KJV, the Greek word Anomia translated "iniquity" in this verse is elsewhere translated transgress the law, transgression of the law, unrighteousness. In NAS, according to studylight, it is lawlessness or lawless deed(s).

It is like this verse, that was a huge turning point for me and my Favorite in all this:

Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
I Never Knew You
Build Your House on the Rock
("Not everyone who(AA) says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will(AB) enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who(AC) does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (AD) On that day(AE) many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not(AF) prophesy in your name, and cast out demons(AG) in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' ( And then will I declare to them, 'I(AI) never knew you;(AJ) depart from me,(AK) you workers of lawlessness.'
Matthew 7:20-23

Most believers who have been believers for very long know this verse. "Lord, Lord...I never knew you." It is always presented as being directed at unbelievers. But I had never noticed before this year how it ended. "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." It is the same greek word as above. Torahlessness, they didn't keep or perhaps care for Torah, God's very instruction. The implication of that verse is slightly terrifying, and reminds me of how glad I am that God is the gracious judge and not I.

Things to do

I have to do list all over the house, and all packed away in my mind. Here are a few things regarding God that I have on my to do list:

1. Research the holidays: This was our first year being Torah observant and like all things I do, it started out strong and fast, and then things got left behind. I would like to look at the holidays, put them in my calendar (or print FFOZ's!) and be prepared ahead of time for fasting, Sabbaths, and traditions. I want them to be a joy for my Teeny Tiny and my Favorite.

2. Research prayer: I would like to break down the different moedim (i think that's the right word) into something that is more readable then the siddur. I keep wanting to use it, but I look at it and just get overwhelmed by the tiny writing and length.

3. Read the weekly Torah Portion: My Favorite wanted us to read it at the end of every Shabbat for the next week, but we never did. I would like to make that a priority. Somehow that means we have to be home at the end of Shabbat though...

4. Figure out how to read the word to a 1 year old without using children's bible stories that take some serious license. But she can't even sit still through a few lines of psalms.

These are not in the order I should focus on them, just in the order they came to mind!

Friday, September 28, 2007

My King

For at least a year, probably longer, I have found myself pondering the idea, the reality, of God the King. I am greatly intrigued and mystified by this part of His character and how it affects and should affect my relationship with Him.

I'm in a bible study that is now going through the book of Esther, so I am gathering here thoughts on that subject.

This first finding is a blog post from FFOZ that talks about how God's Kingship changes our prayer life, and the author explains beautifully why "King" is such a difficult concept for us in this day and age:

Our Relationships With God

By Aaron Eby | Comments (8) | Posted on January 9, 2007

Avinu Malkenu

One of the most moving traditional Jewish prayers of all is Avinu Malkenu, which is composed of a list of dozens of petitions that begin with “our Father, our King.” This prayer is offered primarily during the time of repentance from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

(On a side note, it is fascinating to me that this prayer was not penned by an individual. It started with just a couple spontaneous lines uttered by Rabbi Akiva during a drought, and then developed ‘wiki’-style as each generation encountered their own times of desperation.)

I appreciate how this prayer exemplifies the focus of a Hebraic mindset on the multifaceted nature of our relationship with God, who is both our Father and our King. Often, people are unable to hold on to one without letting go of the other. For many, this difficulty manifests itself during prayer.

When a person speaks with his or her earthly father, there is normally no need to script what you are going to say. One should be respectful, but not necessarily formal. There is intimacy and nearness, since parents know their children in a way that no one else can. There is room for playfulness, emotion and spontaneity. In a healthy parent-child relationship, a child has confidence and trust that her father desires what is best for her, caring deeply for her well-being. This description characterizes our personal relationship with our Abba in heaven.

And yet, our personal relationship with God is not our only relationship with Him. God is our Father, and it is appropriate to communicate with Him in that way. At the same time, He is our King, which we must also acknowledge. I find myself at a loss for how to do that, because I have never had a relationship with a king. Sure, I have had authority figures in my life, but none of them even approximated the ultimate power held by a king.

Kings: a lost concept

Kings are an extinct species. Kings who do exist are merely ceremonial. I suppose the closest it comes in these days is a dictator, but there is a big difference between a dictator (מושל moshel) and a king (מלך melech), particularly in Jewish thought. A moshel seizes power, subduing subjects by force. A melech is enthroned by loyal subjects, who willingly submit themselves to his absolute authority.

This no longer occurs. Ask yourself: who is the most powerful political officer in the world today? When he speaks, how do people respond? When he takes action, do people rush to support and fulfill it, or does he meet with criticism?

In a true monarchy, there are no checks and balances. One man is the executive, legislative and judicial branch of the government. People do not speak frankly or in familiar terms with the king. In fact, they don’t speak at all unless they go through proper channels, formalities and protocol.

Proper protocol

One story that has helped me to understand the proper way to approach and address a king is the book of Esther. Queen Esther was the king’s own bride…and yet she fears for her own life when in his presence! Not only does she use formal language, but even her personal grooming and body movements follow strict standards.

Now, if our relationship with our Creator is to be understood in terms of loyal submission to a king as well as endearment to a loving father, then both concepts must be present in our prayer life. It is not either/or. A prayer life that encompasses both is essential in order to achieve fullness and growth.

The “father” part is easy. It comes natural to us. For most of us, the “king” part is what we need to learn and work on. How do we begin? God willing, I will address this at a later time. I hope these thoughts and ideas have been encouraging for you.

Aaron Eby
Tevet 19, 5767

[Please go and read their blog, I really recommend it. I put the full post here because of the nature of web based info, you never know when it will disappear!]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Best, intimacy, close...His Beloved

I was reading one of my favorite magazines today, Messiah magazine by FFOZ, and reading an article about this High Holiday season being one of intimacy with HaShem. It made me realize what the world and the life I lived in the past, has done to that word. It doesn't mean the same thing that it should. It describes something very personal, very special, but to me it sounds fake and lustful. And that is so sad!

So I am asking God to clean my heart, my mind, so that I can see His desire for intimacy in the right light. For now, I am rather fond of the word "close." I was actually thinking of this the other day in regards to my wonderful husband. He has been my closest friend for almost 11 years. I usually say best, but that just makes me think of middle school girls who don't stay friends more then a couple months. Everyone has had best friends, but how many close friends do we have? I have one. Excuse me. I have one physical close friend, and one heavenly close friend who I need to get closer to.

"To be intimate," this phrase, in my experience, means something that is quite opposite of honoring my Lord. Just like "best friends" many people have been intimate. People are intimate, physically, on a first date, or not even on a date. People I have never met before have spilled their most intimate experiences, hurts, problems without even knowing my name. Which I don't mind, it is just an example of the lack of boundaries we have in this society. It is also an example, no, proof that we are wired to be intimate with our Heavenly Father. We are designed to need His comfort and relationship.

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine"
Song of Songs 6:3

He is our beloved! I've always been in awe of, and slightly uncomfortable with that concept. Today it thrills me.

"My beloved sent his hand through the opening and aroused my feelings for him"
Song of Songs 5:4

Hmm, I can't figure out what translation this comes from. Here are a few others, although this is a serious, amazing passage I can't help but include KJV which just made me snicker. See, I still have that middle school mind! Argh!

"My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my heart was moved for him." amplified

"My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him." KJV
[okay, I don't think that word instills quite the feeling the translators was going for, how bout you?! :0)]

"My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me." ESV

That first version makes me uncomfortable. But I realized that is simply because what it makes me think of, wether or not that is what the author intended, has been soiled by what I have been exposed to and what I have exposed myself to. The intensity of those feelings is what we're getting at here. We should desire our Lord as we do our spouse, in that we long for Him, hunger for Him, and Him alone. His word are His sweet everythings in our ears, if we will read it.

Thank you Lord that you would desire me in such a way. That as part of your congregation, as part of your Bride, you have given everything to win my love and my hand. Thank you for letting me see, feel that intensity for the first time. I pray that all the garbage I have opened myself to would be washed away by your hand, that I would rest in the knowledge that it has been and that you have the strength to keep it that way. I ask of you my King to help me desire you with an intense, unsable hunger that keeps me in your word daily, that helps me see how important it is to share your love with those around me and not care what anyone thinks. May all the times I got this intimacy thing wrong, be turned into a true understanding of intimacy with you. May I let you be my closest friend.

In Ha Shem Yeshua Ha Meshiach, I thank you

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Proverbs 9:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
(W) and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Proverbs 9:10

I'm not doing well at posting on this, so I am going to quickly write out what thoughts come to my mind and if I get back to flesh them out, so be it!

My family things the idea of fearing the Lord is ridiculous. Their thought: If God is all good, and we are made in His image, we are all good so there is nothing to fear.

The world, both secular and sometimes Christian thinks it is ridiculous too. Their thought: If God is a loving, grace filled God, my best friend, what is there to fear? Plus, to fear Him is to just show Him reverence.

My thoughts: If the Word says fear of the Lord is the beggining of wisdom, I want to fear Him. I more or less understand in my head the importance of fearing Him, but as far as feeling it, not so much. I don't believe I have the reverence for the King that He deserves. I know, and love, but don't rightly comprehend this scripture:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matthew 10:28

[a]I don't, we don't know what it is like to have a King. I think of King as dictator, because when I hear the word "king" I think of all those history classes, or Braveheart, where the king is a no good, slimy, power hungry HUMAN. But we're not dealing with a human here. We are dealing with the awesome King of the universe. A King that went before His people, destroying anyone who would cause them harm or temptation. A King that stood behind His people to protect them from the enemy. A King that spoke directly to His people so they would know exactly how to serve Him, if they cared to choose His ways. A King that came to earth and paid the penelty for all the times I did not choose His ways. A King who died for me. That is the kind of King I want to fear and serve.

Then there is this verse:

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

My old self, before God started my facination with His Kingship, pictured something very strange when I was taught this verse. I pictured I had the right to nonchalantly bolt into the throne room of God and demand my need. After all, Christ died for me so I had the right, right?

Now, I cringe at that thought. And think of Esther.

"All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days."
Esther 4:11

To approach the King is a privilege one does not take upon themselves. It is something offered by the King. We don't brashly choose to approach God, He calls us to His throne. Do you see that there? To enter the inner court of our King we must be called. The call must come in His name. If we come without His invitation, we risk death. Unless...unless He holds out the scepter and grants us life. Which through His Messiah He has done. Yeshua haMeshiach took the penelty of death we deserved.

Look at that. Esther was the kings wife. The congregation of Israel (even those grafted in) is the Bride of the King. We don't deserve the scepter, but because of Meshiach, we can confidently, and humbly, approach the throne of the King because we are called in His name.

What an awesome King we have!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Proverb 25

A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and
left without walls.
Proverb 25:28

This one caught my eye a few months ago, but I'd forgotten about it already. Basic Idea: Without self-control you have no way to protect yourself. Any temptation has full access.

When I was younger I always thought self-control was something I just needed to get. Like some people have it and some don't. I wasn't sure where one got this "self-control" but I wanted it. There were things in my life and in my head that I didn't want to do, think, say or eat.

Now I know a little more. The first tactic for achieving self-control? Letting my pure frustration and/or disgust cry out to HaShem. Over and over and over again. He can take it.

The second? Let Him do it.

The third? Make a choice, and be willing to get up anytime you fall and be willing to make that choice again.

Self-control is resisting temptation. A speaker once recounted how a man had asked this question: "How can Jesus understand my struggles when He was perfect?" The speakers response? "He was sinless, but that doesn't mean He wasn't tempted. Who would you rather lean on: Someone who has fallen into temptation or someone who had the strength to to resist the devil?

Yeshua (Jesus) is tempted:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness
to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

He calls on God's word [and Yeshua is the Word] to resist temptation:

But he answered, (H) "It is written,
(I) "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word
that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Matthew 4:4

He actively chooses to push the very tempter away:

Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone,(Q) Satan! For(R) it is written,
(S) "'You shall worship the Lord your God
(T) and him only shall you serve.'"
Matthew 4:10

Which brings us back to hiding His word in our heart, hence my study of Proverbs:

Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

Friday, August 24, 2007

Daily... Weekly Proverb

I love to read a chapter of the book of Proverbs everyday. So, from time to time, I do.

My initial goal was to read it daily (happens sometimes, not others), pertaining to the date. With 31 chapters and around that many days in a month, I should read through it once a month. Right.

My next goal was to memorize one verse that caught my eye from that chapter. Or at least go over it throughout the day. More often then not, it is one a week, but each little bit helps.

(A)I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Pslam 119:11

I'm a new mom who is still learning what a resonable goal is, but I'm also learning to not beat myself up when I don't meet my expectations. No beating up, but no giving up either. Each day is another opportunity to do what I know I need to do.

On that note, my proverb of the week:

By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established
Proverb 24:3

And since "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov 9:10), may the first stone of my house be the fear of Ha Shem!