Homeschool Fun Days!

Shalom, shalom!
We just returned a couple of weeks ago from our Israel harvest trip, and have hit the ground running as soon as Sukkot wrapped up, to get as much homeschooling in as possible before the next inevitable derailment. Be it in the form of guests, illness, or birthday season, it always comes. The freedom to adjust to life is one of our favorite things about homeschooling, and we have hit a quiet stretch right now (just when most are coming into their busy season, ours is nicely winding down!), so we are plugging away.

We have been very happy with our curriculum choice this year – homeschoolingtorah.com. The Elliotts have done a fantastic job of pulling scripture into each subject, and it takes quite a load off of me, doing the planning end of it. And so much freedom to cover what we need and leave what we don’t. What a blessing!

We have been covering our official school subjects Sunday through Thursday this year, leaving Fridays open for Shabbat prep. We have been doing some FUN stuff on Thursdays and some of my homeschooling readers might want to pick up this baton and run with it.

Basically, Thursdays are theme days. So far, we have done “Crazy Day” and “Backwards Day,” just to build anticipation and enthusiasm into our windup to Shabbat. Schools celebrate these kinds of things, mostly during “Spirit Week” around homecoming time. I came across a list online that was talking about finding ways other than sugar to reward kids, and this idea sparked for me. Theme week was my favorite part of the 6 months I went to actual school (kind of like kids who claim their favorite subject is recess), so I figure there is no reason homeschoolers can’t get in on this.

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This kid gets into everything!

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Very fashionable!

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Gotta love the clip-on tie – especially on a t-shirt!

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As it turns out, these days are SO much MORE fun for homeschoolers!!! (Since we are all family, everyone is comfortable and not trying to impress anyone, so we are free to participate with abandon – though at least one of us is still camera-shy!)

Fleeing the camera, with a swish of black cape!

Fleeing the camera, with a swish of black cape!

For Crazy Day*, we all dressed up in clashing and/or crazy outfits. We had plaid with tie-dye and stripes, sequined hats, clip-on ties, and face paint. We played Musical Freeze for PE, and read some crazy stories. Our other advantage over school format is that we were able to incorporate thematic elements with our food. For Crazy Day, my daughter who was on breakfast duty put blue food coloring into our dutch baby oven pancakes. 🙂

blue pancakes - Crazy!

blue pancakes – Crazy!

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Chez Blue, herself!

For Backwards Day, we wore our shirts and sweaters backwards, started our school subject list at the bottom and worked our way up, ran our relay course in reverse (Daddy put the kibosh on running it backwards), and ate our meals in the opposite order – breakfast was dessert, lunch was dinner, and dinner was breakfast! We also found some funny backwards jokes to read out loud.

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We are all getting into it (even our 4yo who MUST wear matching jammies eventually joined in), and looking forward to future Thursdays this year. I have heard suggestions for Medieval Day, Viking Day, Farmer Day, Pirate Day, Hat Day, Pajama Day, Stuffed Animal Day… You get the picture – the sky’s the limit! (Did I hear someone say Astronaut Day?)

To close this post, I want to give one more shout out to homeschoolingtorah.com. Thanks for freeing up my brain space to think about the fun stuff!!! 😀

Blessings to all!

*Disclaimer: Yes, I realize that many of us can claim “EVERY day is Crazy Day at MY house!” But making it official frees you up to enjoy it. Every little incident throughout the day made me smile and say “well, THIS fits right in with our theme!”

Guest Post: Afraid of Food?

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In looking back at my life over the past several years, I have now come to realize that I have been held in bondage to the fear of food. I know that to many this may sound silly, weird or like some kind of super-spiritual madness. But to those who are willing to read my “note,” I ask that you bear with me and read on; I do have a purpose in sharing this, and I’m pretty sure I’m not “off my rocker.”

For numbers of years, I have been afraid of eating highly-processed foods, foods prepared in an improper way, pasteurized or denatured foods, foods with man-made garbage in them, and the like, all under the guise of “conviction.” It was about a week ago that I realized the fear that had gripped me – the bondage I was in, and the dues I’ve been paying for in my surrender to it. The moment my eyes were opened was the point at which God spoke through me to respond to my father on the subject of eating kosher. He asked me if we had a problem with eating half a pizza, with the other half having pork on it. I said to him: “We’re not afraid of eating pork; we eat kosher because we fear and love God.” I sometimes feel like I open my mouth to talk to someone and God starts speaking through me. It’s as though I stop in my own mind and listen to what’s coming out and think, “oh. . . that’s true, that’s good, I never thought of it that way.” And in speaking to my father. I found one of those moments.

In the week that followed, I believe that God spoke to my heart saying such things as these: Don’t deceive yourself any longer into believing that you eat “healthy” because you fear and love me. Don’t believe the lie that you are protecting yourself from “destroying God’s temple, the dwelling of the Holy Spirit” (your body) by eating healthy. You eat the way you do not to honor and glorify the Lord, and not because it’s right or good, but because you are afraid of what will happen if you don’t. You have said that you eat healthy because you are “convicted” to honor the Lord by taking care of the gift God gave you in the body you have. Who convicts you? Are you compelled by love, or driven by fear? Is it not that which comes out of your mouth and not what goes in that makes you unclean?

“When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” – Mark 7:14-16

How do you then justify your biting unkindness toward others who come between you and your fear? In whom have you put your trust – in God or food? In God or herbs and naturopathy? In God or man? If man has said that a certain food will kill you and you avoid it at all costs, are you not putting more trust in man than in God – for who alone numbers your days? Or are you afraid that you will not have quality of life? Is God not good? Is He not just? Is He not the blessed controller of all things? Has God not promised to work all things toward your good? Has God not promised to care for and protect you? And though there will be troubles, will God not deliver you from every one of them? And is God’s love and peace not better than life? How much time do you spend learning about and preparing food? How much money do you spend on that which fades? Are you storing up your treasures in heaven or on earth?

Lay down your sacrifices and cease your idolatry of self. Work no longer to stay the hand of an angry god who threatens you with death, disease and affliction unless you bring your sacrifices. Worship the Lord, the Lord only.

I have responded to the Lord with “YES, I want to worship you alone! And I am SO, SO sorry, Lord for my waywardness and idolatry; please change my heart.” I was amazed to find out after sharing with my husband that he had long believed I’d been deceived and duped into self-idolatry with regard to food. He had been praying for me, and trusting in God to save. It is very humbling for me to confess this to you all, but I feel compelled to share for a couple of reasons. First, our God is SO AMAZING. He is not like the god I once served who is without compassion and whose only motivation is fear. The Lord is patient, gracious, gentle, kind, good, merciful and full of everlasting love (to start with). I stand in awe of the fact that He is faithful even when I am not. And though to you the words (above) that I felt God speak to my heart may sound harsh, to my ears they were gentle and full of compassion. His words were true and to the point, convicting but not defeating. For in fact, godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to life and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. The second reason I am sharing this with you is in the hope that if any of my dear friends are suffering under this same deception, I might encourage you through my own experience that you might recover yourself from the snare of the devil. I am not writing this to point a finger. I’ll leave the job of convicting up to God. I do, however, want to encourage you to seek God and ask Him if you’ve made an idol in your heart, so that you might repent and be free. Now, for those of you who may still be wondering, no I don’t believe it is the good or right thing to (purposefully) be unhealthy and dishonor God with our bodies. The kicker to the lies and deceptions of our enemy is that they are mixed with the truth. The truth, I believe, is that it is a good and right thing to honor and glorify God with all that we are, think, say and do – including the way that we eat. In fact, God has told us how to eat to glorify Him (i.e. eating “kosher,” but of course, man always wants to add to or subtract from the words of God). It is also written that man was not made for food, food was made for man. Food ought not to control us, we ought to be in control of food, without love or fear. Perhaps the question we ought to train ourselves to ask in order that we might guard against idolatry is: “do I glorify God in what I am doing?” For if we were created to bring glory to God, to love Him, to fear Him, and to enjoy His love – then all that we do should bring forth that very fruit. So I ask myself, “is my eating bringing glory to God – or does the glory fall elsewhere?” The only one worthy of our love and fear is the Lord. So the question is, are we sacrificing ourselves to another, and is there something or someone we love or fear more than or along side of God? If so, let us repent, for the rewards of freedom are great!

Grace and peace be with you my friends!

Jen

I really appreciate what Jen shares here, and I just want to say that I was also living in fear of food for many years. My family was bound up with food allergies, and when the Father graciously started opening my eyes, I was in the grocery store, and I went down the aisle with the Holy Spirit looking over my shoulder, pointing out that I was afraid of that and that, and that . . . Then more scriptures spoke to me about this.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons . . . and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. – I Timothy 4:1-3

It is really amazing how many in believing communities these days have food allergies, and troubles with gluten. I have even seen a communion table in a church with labels for gluten-free communion wafers. The question I can’t get out of my mind is, “If Yeshua called himself ‘the Bread of Life,’ then isn’t bread not only good for us, but as essential to our long-term physical well being as He Himself is to our spiritual life?

Another thought to consider, along the lines of Jen’s note: anything you give up because you are afraid of it becomes a sacrifice on the altar of fear, in your life.

On to cleaning for Pesach! (Conversely, it must be good for us to go without chametz for one week a year, right? I wonder how many gluten problems might be cleared up by following this commandment . . . )

Blessings and Shalom to you all!

Bad Tree . . . Good Fruit??

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Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. – Matthew 7:17-19

As people who are trying to walk on a more Torah-observant path, many of us have done a good job of cutting out the old pagan and idolatrous practices that had crept into the church over the years. It has been inspiring to watch so many who have honestly evaluated their traditions and, sometimes at great personal cost, stepped away from those that were ungodly in origin.

But let’s think about it for a minute – do we believe that when we turn our backs on these things, the enemy gives up trying to trick us into participating with idolatrous practices? Or might he be concentrating his efforts on sneaking unnoticed into other areas of our lives?

My concern today has to do with some of the “alternative” healing methods that seem to be very common in Messianic circles. They are setting off my discernment alarm bells.

This post is probably going to step on some toes, so please take a minute right now to pray and ask for discernment before reading any further . . . really. Here’s a jump start: Father, we ask for your grace and mercy as we explore this area of healing. We ask that you would give us discernment so that we can abhor what is evil and cling to what is good. Amen.

Not many years ago, I was the “go-to gal” on homeopathic remedies in my little circle. I was the one all my friends would call when they needed to know what remedy to give for what symptom. I had books on homeopathy and I never went anywhere without my kit at my side, ready to treat whatever ailments arose in my children. We did muscle testing (applied kinesiology), cranial-sacral therapy, herbs, vitamins, essential oils, and were up for trying plenty more. When a friend, teaching a class on the spiritual roots of disease, raised some good points, I started to ask tough questions. Soon, there were some scriptures that made sense to me in a new way.

BASIC VERSES ON HEALING

If you diligently heed the voice of the L-rd your G-d and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the L-rd who heals you. – Exodus 15:26

Torah folks usually agree that it’s important to keep commandments and statutes. But we also tend to take back responsibility on ourselves or our doctors or alternative practitioners when it comes to healing, and then many of us apply some kind of worldly wisdom to heal ourselves.

What else does G-d say?

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the ekklesia, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the L-rd. – James 5:14

We are told to place our healing in the hands of our elders – and priests, in the name of HaShem. Yeshua, after healing lepers, told them to show themselves to the priests to confirm their healing and purify themselves according to the law of Moses. Other than an often cursory prayer request, our “default” these days is to go to the doctor or the cabinet full of herbs and oils when we get sick. We only take the matter to the elders when the doctors tell us they have nothing left to offer, but this trust in doctors is misplaced, according to the Word that is our standard. Consider the following:

Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. – Mark 5:25-26

Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. – Luke 8:43-44

Unfortunately, this woman has a history like many of us, who have spent money we can ill afford on treatments that will not help us.

And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the L-rd, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. – 2 Chronicles 16:12-13

Over the course of two years of illness, Asa, who had been victorious with G-d’s help in other areas, didn’t seek Him for healing, and this is given as the reason that he died.

WHAT KINDS OF THERAPY?

Let’s consider the question, “How we determine whether a therapy is something we should try?” A common response is that we first investigate (often through reading testimonials or hearing a teaching) to determine whether it “works” or not. But if our plumb line is the Holy Scripture, then there are some OTHER questions we should really be asking first. Like “is this a fitting place for a child of G-d to look for healing?”

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. – Deuteronomy 13:1-3

Woe to the rebellious children, says the L-rd, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin. That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. – Isaiah 30:1-3

MANY of the healing modalities being practiced today by believers have their origins in Egypt. From what I understand, Egypt had a HUGE medical community that was incredibly skilled in the use of herbs and remedies. They were able to embalm bodies to preserve them for “the afterlife,” even before Joseph’s day; but they were plagued by disease.

Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. – Isaiah 36:6

For more on Egypt, its diseases and healing modalities, look here: Healing in Egypt.

Behold, the L-rd rides on a swift cloud,
And will come into Egypt;
The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence,
And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst. – Isaiah 19:1

The ultimate test is NOT whether or not the therapy “works.” Because we have an eternal perspective, we have to ask ourselves what the source of power is, that we are tapping into, and if there might be any negative spiritual impact on us from that. There is such a thing as false signs and wonders, and we need to pray for discernment, so that we don’t fall into deception.

Holistic medicine is dangerous, because it treats the “whole” person – body, soul AND spirit, according to its claims. It is one thing to treat the symptoms of the body, and another to tap into the spiritual powers of another religion for “spiritual healing,” as many alternative therapies claim to do.

“Empty your thoughts, let them be free and peaceful” is NEVER a command anywhere is scripture. That is unplugging the judgement G-d gave you and opening a door for some other spirit being to take up residence. We are asked to bring every thought into captivity under the lordship of Messiah, and to give up our own control in favor of faith and trust, but these are conscious acts of submission. He asks us to trust Him, and give up our cares and worries to Him, but never to empty our minds. “Inviting” anything is the same. If you “invite healing” or “invite the spirit” of whatever, that IS what you are doing.

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Going back to the scripture at the top of this article, we need to apply the question of origins to all our healing techniques. It’s all about the roots. If a bad tree cannot produce good fruit, then we need to make sure we are not eating fruit from a bad tree. All it takes, these days, is a quick search on google, for “origins” and “(fill in your therapy of choice)”.

Anything “ayurvedic” is based in Hinduism. It is promoted by the same people who are doing “yogic flying” (aka transcendental meditation/astral projection). Out it goes. This includes oil pulling and neti pots, folks. Both are Ayurvedic healing techniques. Cast those bad trees onto your healing technique bonfire! Trust that your loving Creator has another way for you to be healed.

Essential oils – yes, they smell good. And they are being promoted as a “Biblical” type of healing. But a little bit of research turns up some very disturbing things about the founder of YLEO. A Critical Look. Just a few of the points raised here: his medical education claims are fraudulent, he and his team have reportedly been responsible for the deaths of several people – including that of his own child, and he’s on his third marriage. Though he fraudulently claims to be a doctor, he makes no claim of Christianity or Judaism. He also claims to have learned his “raindrop therapy” technique from a Native American medicine man – who wants no responsibility for what he is teaching. His own website says he has altered his technique so many times that his staff can’t keep up. This is bad company. This man has no moral compass, let alone a relationship with our one true G-d. Can this tree bear good fruit?

Look up the origins of essential oil therapy, and guess what? Egypt – and China and India (again, as an “integral part of Ayurvedics”). History of Essential Oils. I seriously doubt this is what the Bible is talking about the elders doing when they anoint you with oil.

There are even therapies being used by otherwise Torah-pursuant believers, that were originated by folks who openly say that they were consulting “spirit guides.” I hope this is as disturbing to you as it is to me. If not, maybe take another look at Deuteronomy 18.
ImageI highly recommend this article for a scriptural perspective, if you have ever used or looked into Energy Medicine.

WHAT IS OCCULTISM?

By definition, occultism is something that holds itself up as the answer, but is covering (occluding) the real answer. In the spirit realm, according to the Be In Health ministry, occultism comes from fear. We are afraid of the stuff that attacks our bodies, so we want to control that stuff. Anything that we engage in, to control symptoms and attempt to cover ourselves would fit under this category. Our job as believers is to OBEY, and trust Him to cover us. When I was so preoccupied with figuring out for myself which therapies to use and how to implement them for each and every ailment, my focus was on that, and I had no time for other pursuits I knew the Father had called me to, because I was too busy using my “free” time to pursue this knowledge.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me.'” – Exodus 8:1

I was also trusting in this other stuff as my healer. Once I realized that my knee-jerk reaction to sickness was to go to these remedies instead of the G-d I ostensibly worshiped, I realized I was holding these modalities up as idols in my heart.

“For the L-rd shall judge his people . . . and he shall say, ‘Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.'” – Deuteronomy 32:36-38

HERBS USED IN SCRIPTURE

There are some godly uses in scripture of what could be called “herbal remedies,” but interestingly, they do not come from man’s knowledge. In the desert, when the children of Israel came to water that was bitter, G-d told Moses how to deal with it by throwing a nearby tree into the water.

“And he cried unto the L-rd, and the L-rd showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, and said, ‘If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the L-rd thy G-d, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the L-rd that healeth thee.'” – Exodus 15:24-26

I would call that an herbal remedy, but whether there was something in the tree that effected the healing of the waters, or it was just a test of obedience, I don’t know. It’s up to Him – not Moses, and not me.

Other examples of this would be in 2 Kings 2, where Elisha heals the waters of Jericho with salt, and 2 Kings 4, where Elisha is feeding the prophets, and they cry out that there is “death in the pot.” Elisha throws in a handful of flour that fixes it right up.

I don’t know about you, but I find these instances encouraging! They reassure me that our heavenly Father has everything under control, and brings to mind 1 Corinthians 10:13:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but G-d is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

When we have a test and take that opportunity to look to Him for help, He will provide the remedies we need, and they will be something common and nearby that He will use for our healing, not “a hair from the great Cham’s beard.”

The Father has more important things for believers to be worried about than running after the purest, most potent, organic South American jungle plant that has been sold to us as THE thing that will cure our ailments. The enemy is the one who wants to keep us busy with running to and fro after things that will waste our time and potential for eternal profit. Egypt, in scripture, is a place of slavery. Did you ever notice how many people who get sucked in to the world of healing and remedies never find just one answer, but are kept forever chasing their tails for the next treatment, whether for themselves or others? While no doubt well-intentioned, if our loving Father has a simpler remedy to offer, why not take Him up on it, and go on about His business? Leave the Greek thinkers to their heroic quests, and pursue the living G-d!

Too many remedies that call for things like “eye of newt” and “root of hemlock, digged in the dark,” as rendered in Macbeth, are nothing less than witchcraft – which brings us to our next point.

PHARMAKEIA

Did you know that the Greek word from which we derive “pharmacy” is the same word used for “witchcraft” in the Apostolic scriptures?

Here’s the Strong’s entry:

5331. farmakei÷a pharmakeia, far-mak-i´-ah; from 5332; medication (“pharmacy”), i.e. (by extension) magic (literally or figuratively): — sorcery, witchcraft.

and the source of that one:

5332. farmakeu/ß pharmakeus, far-mak-yoos´; from fa¿rmakon pharmakon (a drug, i.e. spell-giving potion); a druggist (“pharmacist”) or poisoner, i.e. (by extension) a magician: — sorcerer.

These should really make us stop and think.

And please don’t think I’m saying that all doctors, medicines or herbs are bad. I have seen great healings and miracles take place with their use, and I’ve seen doctors and nurses who are truly G-d’s servants, doing His work as He directs their lives.

My bottom line is this: we need to consult with Him for direction before we endeavor to heal ourselves. When Yeshua walked the earth, He made it clear that He considers healing – both physical and spiritual – to be His business. And He heals those who come to Him and ask. Notice that He wasn’t going around seeking sick people. THEY were coming to HIM. And when Yeshua sent out His disciples, He commanded them to “heal the sick” (Matt. 10, Luke 10). I doubt He was sending them to Naturopathic School.

CONCLUSION

Here comes the altar call, If this is you – If you recognize that you have set up idols in your heart (Ezekiel 14) – for healing or anything else, please take this opportunity to repent and change your ways. Start listening to Him for guidance in this area, too. He promises us FREEDOM from the slavery of Egypt!

(A final note: when you begin listening for guidance [especially if you have participated in occultism], it’s very important to follow 1 John 4:1-3: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of G-d; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of G-d: Every spirit that confesses that Yeshua the Messiah has come in the flesh is of G-d, and every spirit that does not confess that Yeshua the Messiah has come in the flesh is not of G-d.”)

Thanks for reading and considering. May we all be blessed with freedom as we enter the upcoming Passover season!

Blog Award? What??

Wow – I was nominated by Dinah at The Traveling Classroom for something called the Liebster Award! Thanks, Dinah! (I had a lot of fun looking at her tales and pictures from homeschooling in Central America. Talk about the beautiful handiwork of our Creator!)
So, I’ll go with this, and those of you looking for deep thoughts might want to skip this one. Feels a little like a Facebook game. . .
the-liebster-award
The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.
So, the rules of this award are:
You must post 11 random things about yourself.
Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post. No tag back, but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you!
1. How long have you been teaching?
As an oldest sister, I guess since I was three . . . I always tell my children that it’s their job to teach their younger siblings how to play. One of the first necessary lessons is to enjoy this gift of life!
2. Do you have a TpT or Teacher’s Notebook Store?
No.
3. What is your hobby if you have one?
Reading!!
4. What grade level do you teach or have taught?
All, from baby to adult. Just different lessons!
5. Favorite Season?
Fall – the mist in the meadow, the colorful leaves, the awesome holy days, digging in to a new learning season with my kiddos, and cuddling by the fireplace!
6. Favorite Food?
Oh, that would have to be B’Stilla, an amazing Moroccan chicken pie with cinnamon and eggs and powdered sugar. There is scrunched phyllo dough on top of the one I make (hardly ever, as it’s quite a project). My son saw me putting the uncooked pie it in the oven once, and asked, “What’s that? Buttered toilet paper?”
7. Favorite Christmas song? Can I say Handel’s Messiah Oratorio? But I don’t play it for Christmas. I play it because it’s full of Isaiah’s restoration prophecies!
(Time out for a pet peeve: I heard when I was in Israel recently that the Messiah was performed a few years ago in Hebrew for the first time, at King of Kings in Jerusalem. So when I got home, I googled it, and most of the links were to the Hallelujah Chorus! Hell-OOOO!! The only word in the Hallelujah Chorus is “Hallelujah!” And that’s ALREADY in Hebrew! How is that different? And the articles referencing it talked about how it has now been “translated” to Hebrew? All the lyrics are scriptures that would just need to be looked up in a Hebrew Bible, and set to the music. No translating necessary. Still, Kudos to the folks at King of Kings for doing the necessary work. I’m sure it was quite a project. Just had some disconnects in how it was reported. OK, off my soapbox, on with the questions! 🙂
8. Favorite subject to teach?
Hebrew – just so I can have someone to practice with!
9. Do you have a Smart board?
Sorry – I have no idea what this is. So no, I don’t.
10. Favorite blog?
Several I will mention below, however, I have really enjoyed How to Be Israeli, lately, and it’s over 200 followers, so I’ll mention it here.
(Oh, dear. I just realized I’m doing the 11 questions that my nominator was supposed to respond to. Oh, well. They stand. How about we count them for the “11 random things about myself”?)
11. Favorite place to go on vacation?
ISRAEL!!!!!
11 blogs I love (in no particular order)
Now – to answer the real questions my nominator asked 🙂
1 How long have you been blogging?
Since April 2011
2 What do you like about blogging?
It’s keeping some record of my crazy random ponderings.
3 What don´t you like about blogging?
It takes time out from interacting with my beloved family – but not as badly as facebook (see this article for my take on that!)
4 Do you sell things on line? If so what are your links?
No. I tried ebay for awhile, but it was a lot of wheel spinning for not a lot of profit. Again, I’d rather be wholehearted, taking care of my family! However, I am very thankful for those who DO sell online, cuz I buy a lot of stuff that way! 😉
5 How do you find balance in your life?
Balance? What’s that? I’m a radical, and I’m OK with that. Actually, I use the Torah as my plumb line, so I’m only radical in the current world’s culture, right?
6 What is your favorite animal?
For hanging around with – my Otterhound/Lab mix, for looking at – peacocks!
7 What kind of art do you like?
Anything my daughters draw! (Cuz it blows me away! They are so much more talented at art than I ever was! Just proves that a parent’s ignorance of a subject will not hinder a talented homeschooled child!)
And colorful, whimsical, or realistic, otherwise. Hardly any modern/abstract stuff.
8 If you could do anything what would you do?
I am doing it, every day! Making a home for my amazing husband, teaching my amazing horde of children, following G-d with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and supporting Israel!
9 Any Words of Advice to new bloggers?
Well, I still consider myself a new blogger – what is this? post #14? Sorry, people – I got nothing!
10 Do you have a favorite blog tutorial?
Umm – yeah – it’s linked on my sidebar. Just can’t remember what it is at the moment.
11 What are your future blog goals?
Well, nothing lofty. Continue to post every once in awhile, I guess. 🙂
11 Questions for my nominees:
1. What books are currently next to your bed?
2. Do you have a regular date night?
3. What was the last thing that made you laugh?
4. What was the last thing that made you nervous?
5. What is a recent challenge you have been inspired to take on? Are you making progress?
6. Favorite dinner?
7. Have you ever visited Israel? If so, what’s the most personally meaningful site you visited?
8. A favorite baby name you haven’t used (yet!), or one you love, but your spouse doesn’t (yes, I know, Dear – you hate the word “spouse”!)?
9. A verse you are meditating on?
10. What measures do you employ to ensure that technology doesn’t take over your life?
11. What’s the most obvious blessing you’ve received in the last week?
Gotta run to a birthday party!!

Oh, and I would also like to invite readers to feel free to answer any or all of the questions, too! I’d love to hear from you! Which question made you think or just smile?

Shabbat and Commerce

Today, I’d like to address a common blind spot regarding Shabbat, among those from church backgrounds who would like to live a more Torah-observant lifestyle. Many who grew up in Christian churches see nothing wrong with going out to eat and then stopping off at Costco or Target as soon as the church service lets out on Sunday. It seems normal and acceptable, and it pretty much is – for Sunday. Some of us may hear tales from the old days about how stores and businesses used to close on Sunday, or maybe know of a few more “backward” (usually conservative) communities or just occasional businesses still follow this practice today. To most, this probably seems quaint, at this point in history, in the U.S..

But once you have been convicted by Torah and the Ruach (Spirit) that you need to keep Shabbat on Saturday, you can get into trouble, unthinkingly applying this practice to Shabbat, as well.

Though not explicitly stated in Torah, it is made abundantly clear in the book of Nehemiah that buying and selling are not to be normal activities on Shabbat:

15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. 16 Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

19 So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.

21 Then I warned them, and said to them, “Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!” From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath. 22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day.

Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy! – Nehemiah 13:15-22

We see in this passage that commerce has to do with profaning the day. When we think of “profane” in common understanding, we think of something dirty, or filthy talk – profanity. What it really means, in this sense, is “common.” We have six other days in which we do common things – including working for a living, and spending our earnings. Shabbat is to be unlike the other, common days. In the Havdalah blessings, we bless G-d, “who separates the holy from the profane” (or “mundane”, depending on your translation.) The Torah does say we are to keep the Sabbath holy, and I believe the Nehemiah passage sheds light on how that was understood by the Torah’s original audience.
Shabbat is to be a day of resting – not only from our normal work, but also from acquiring material things. It is a day to be content with what we already have – and thank the One who has blessed us with so much. And more than that – we should aspire to avoid talking about business, or planning shopping trips, or engaging in any more of the workday materialism than absolutely necessary. Setting these as goals will add more Shalom to your Shabbat, without doubt. Just keep telling yourself, “I can do that another day,” and move on.

This commerce avoidance is a discipline, undoubtedly. When my family started to try keeping Shabbat when I was a teen, we didn’t figure it out for awhile. But the Father was faithful and patient with us, and gave us a few lessons we could look back on as markers along the path. The first, we refer to as “Sabbath Jam.” My mom unthinkingly bought two or three flats of strawberries from the local berry stand on a Saturday morning in June. The berries then took top priority, as we went to work cleaning and hulling them all, to turn into our yearly jam supply. We realized our mistake when we were still up to our elbows in strawberries. We were up late in the night, dealing with all the berries, which would have spoiled if we had left them for later. As it was, the jam we made never set, so every time we ate the extremely runny jam for the rest of the year, we were reminded to avoid the common (buying berries and making jam for future consumption) on the holy Shabbat.

Another time, after we were better informed, we went into a store to get some necessary/emergency supplies on Shabbat, and I saw a beautiful shirt I just had to have. It was on sale, and away from our usual shopping locations, so after debating with myself, I decided to buy it while I was there anyway. It wasn’t working, right? And it was so simple – just reaching into my purse for some cash, and it was mine. Well . . . when I got it home, it was still beautiful, but it was sewn wrong. The buttons didn’t line up with the buttonholes, so it never looked right when I wore it. Yes, I could have gone to work and moved all the buttons, but I decided to leave it that way, and keep it as a reminder not to go clothes shopping on Shabbat.
Another problem that engaging in commerce raises is that of paying someone else who IS working, and thereby contributing to their breaking of the holy day that was instituted at Creation (Genesis 2:3). Even if they aren’t convicted that they need to keep this day sacred, if you know better, yet you are contributing to what you know to be their sin, are you accountable?

Just some things to think about, Obviously, this discussion can (and has) gone on for thousands of years, regarding where to draw your family’s lines, what constitutes “emergency spending,” etc.. And this is only one aspect of Sabbath-keeping.

If you are interested in further discussion and examination, I found a couple of neat articles on the topic. The first is really fun, the second is more scholarly, with some great points.

Saturday Without My Wallet

How to Observe a Biblical Sabbath

As always, I welcome discussion and questions.

Thanks for reading, and Shavua Tov!

THOUGHTS ON UNITY or “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

It takes lots of strands to make a big, beautiful challah loaf. I like to think of the body of believers as each being a strand that contributes to the beauty of the loaf.

Having just come from a marvelous Shavuot celebration that lasted all through Memorial Day weekend, which included believers at all different levels of background and observance – everyone from what I would call “straight” church through to Orthodox Jewish secret believers, thoughts of unity are much on my heart. Praying through this, I believe they are much on our Father’s heart as well.

YESHUA’S PRAYER

Have you noticed that Yeshua’s prayer for his disciples, recorded in John 17 is all about unity? In context, this prayer is spoken immediately before He goes to the garden of Gethsemane, where his betrayal takes place. This is a crucial moment, leading up to the climax of history, and what is on the mind of the Messiah? Unity. Our unity. In part, as He is praying for His talmidim (students/disciples), He speaks these words:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-25)

Earlier in the same teaching, He instructs His followers, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

One of my friends remarked that this instruction and prayer give the effect of a father who is about to leave the room, speaking to his children: “OK, I’m going away for a little while. Please don’t kill each other while I’m gone.” As a mother of seven, this reading makes sense to me. Yeshua, looking down through history, knew what our greatest challenge would be: getting along with each other.

DISPUTES BETWEEN BROTHERS

Or maybe we’re more like monkey bread . . . with nuts!

Looking through the Bible, this is hardly surprising. Start with Cain and Abel, and go from there. Moses was wearing himself to a frazzle, settling disputes between the children of Israel, when his father-in-law saw what was going on and counseled him to put 70 elders in place to help relieve him of the necessity of paying attention to the smaller disputes. The children of Israel needed to have 70 more authorities put in place to help them settle things!

This wise provision indicates to me that we are to EXPECT disputes to arise in this life. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known“ (I Cor. 13:12). In this world, where our understanding is darkened, we should expect to have some differences with people, including other believers, and we should make provision for resolution of these disputes. Notice that many, if not all of the letters in the Apostolic portion of the Bible seem to have been written at least partially to settle disputes that had already arisen in the believing community.

There are so many examples of division between those who are supposed to be loving brothers in Scripture that I don’t need to go into all of them here. I pray that the Father will bring to your eyes and mind the ones relevant for each reader.

To lighten this up a bit, here’s an old but pertinent joke:

A man is rescued after many years on a desert island.

As he stands on the deck of the rescuing vessel, the captain says to him, “I thought you were stranded alone. How come I can see three huts on the beach?”

“Well,” replies the castaway, “that one there is my house and
that one there is where I go to church.”

“And the third one?” asks the skipper.

“Oh, that’s the church I DON’T go to.”

CLUB VS. FAMILY

This may come as a surprise, but after being so long in the Messianic community (24 years, this Shavuot!), I have noticed that those who have grown up in the traditional Christian community are generally less tolerant of each other than those from Jewish backgrounds, whether believers in Yeshua or not. Maybe it’s just that they’ve had so much longer to internalize the lessons of Moses and the elders than we have. Whatever the cause, I think we can learn some things here, from our older brothers and sisters in the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It’s not that they don’t disagree with each other (most of you probably know the saying, “where you have two Jews, you have three opinions”), but they are more likely to have mastered the skill of “agreeing to disagree.”

I have heard the different perspectives explained as a difference between a “club mentality” versus a “family mentality.” Jewish people, in general, no matter what their level of observance, view each other as family members. They might roll their eyes at the loudly declared opinion of their obnoxious Uncle Joe, but they don’t tend to decide that he’s too obnoxious to remain in the family. See this video for a prime example:

Those with Church backgrounds are more prone to view their body as an exclusive one, and pick and choose who gets invited to join up, and even then, keep bickering with those who make it past the initiation, building offense upon offense and taking things personally that aren’t meant that way, getting defensive and causing “church splits.”

To anyone with a basic understanding of Church history, it’s hardly surprising to see this effect at work in the body. While there have only been three major branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform) that make room for huge differences of opinion within themselves, the history of the church is like a gigantic, 2000 year old oak tree with all the big limbs splitting, branching off each other, and forming tiny little independent twigs and even splinters. In one town in Georgia, I counted 22 different BAPTIST Churches – and I’m sure each one has its own reason that it’s got a “corner on the truth”! In my observation, this kind of division in the body is one of the main reasons that people give up and leave fellowship altogether. I have a real hard time understanding the point behind “church planting” in the US. Is that really what we need – MORE varieties of church for people to choose from?

BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

Several scriptures came to mind, as I meditated on this issue, and all deserve consideration. They are all related, but I’m going to tackle them one at a time.

1.) Though Peter’s vision is usually called in as evidence in arguments about kosher/non-kosher requirements, I would like to reference it here because the whole point of the vision, given directly by the voice of G-d, is “what G-d has cleansed, you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). As Peter interpreted his vision, he said “G-d has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28b). Peter had a huge discrepancy in practice from those he was called to minister to, but G-d Himself instructed him to not regard these things as a barrier between men and interfering with fellowship.

2.) “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5). I have noticed many times that when some issue disturbs me in someone else, if I pray about it, the issue is usually something I need to address in my own walk. His principles hold true! Isn’t He good to have given us this insight? “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” (I Cor. 11:31).

3.) “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). It is amazing how many judgments and divisions are made over outward appearances! We tend to get so caught up in setting up our “club” around things like headcoverings, tzitzit, etc., and only surrounding ourselves with people who look just like ourselves, that we miss a great deal of fellowship with others who don’t have the same convictions in those areas. It is good to have discussions and find out the stories behind these choices that believers make. These are good things, but our motivation to take them on should not be “fitting in.” If you are curious about people’s choices, please ask them about them, and don’t presume they are doing something to be “holier than thou” (even though that is occasionally the case, it usually isn’t). Ask, and prepare to have your understanding expanded by someone else’s journey! I have talked to my children about how one of the enemy’s favorite lies is that we all have to look alike. G-d made each of us with a different role to play, and when we are busy trying to be like each other, our individual lights are dimmed. We get so focused on comparing ourselves to each other that our focus gets off of where it should be – following Him as He has called us to do.

4.) “Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for G-d has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for G-d is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:3-4) All of Romans 14 is marvelously on-point for this argument, though I won’t quote the whole thing, as I’m sure you each have a copy and will be good Bereans and give it a read. It talks about not judging each other over which feast days we observe, as well as what we eat. None of these things are what some would call “salvation issues.” “The kingdom of G-d is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). I urge you to give this chapter a read, if you are experiencing unity troubles in your fellowship!

5.) “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of G-d” (Matthew 5:9). Think about it – what is the role of a peacemaker? Usually, the peacemaker is the one that talks to both sides involved in a dispute and helps each of them to understand the other side’s perspective. I don’t know about you, but when I see one of my children peacemaking between their siblings, it makes me so happy and proud that I want to shower the peacemaker with blessings. I am thrilled to call that one “my child”!! (On a side note, Isn’t the L-rd good to give us examples we can relate to? I love that!)

WHAT I’M NOT SAYING

Yes, we are warned against wolves in the flock: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember” (Acts 20:29-31a). This does not mean that we cast “wolf accusations” against everyone who is not on the exact same page as ourselves. Think about the characteristics of wolves. Wolves enter not by the gate (“he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” John 10:1) – they don’t respect the authority that is in place, or ask permission from the shepherd to teach, but go around the edges of the flock, preying on the weak or immature believers. So we should be on our guard against those who use these wolfish tactics, even if they are dressed as sheep.

Also, I am not saying that we have to include all believers in our general area in every meeting we have. The Father puts some in place to walk on the road together, while others need to camp out in the oasis for a while or take time to stop and tie their shoes, or whatever. Some of us are incompatible as traveling companions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t respect one another. Give Uncle Joe the space to be Uncle Joe. You don’t need to meet him head on, unless you are being obviously called to confront him or warn him of danger – and you usually aren’t.

I am also not saying that we shouldn’t disagree with each other. This is where “iron sharpening iron” comes in. As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17). But the goal of discussions and debate should not necessarily be to ultimately convince the other to adopt your own opinion. It should be to consider new ways of thinking about a given topic and thereby refine our spirits with another perspective. There is a reason G-d created us with two eyes. If we open both of them, we gain a more complete understanding of what we are looking at. The goal is not to subject each other to increasing levels of “initiation” and grilling.

SO, WHAT ARE WE CALLED TO DO?

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). As long as we are judging ourselves, rather than each other, we can’t forget to take a look at this incriminating piece of evidence. We all fail at this standard by doing unloving things toward others on a daily basis, as far as I can tell. I know I do.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the L-RD your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” If we never pick another commandment to try to follow, these are enough. For me, the loving G-d part is easy. He is perfect and holy. Our neighbors, on the other hand, are the challenge. They are imperfect, as we are. This is what grace is for. We should also understand, though, that since “all the law and prophets hang on these two,” if we start trying to keep the various laws and instructions in Torah, we will notice that they will teach us what love and grace look like. As long as we focus on internal alignment of our hearts with the commandments, they will tend to drive us toward love and grace, not away from them. The commandments are there to teach us how to love each other, and are chosen as the path of those who love G-d.

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Stir each other towards what? LOVE AND GOOD WORKS!! Let me exhort you: both are important! And neither is accomplished by aligning ourselves on teams against each other. Come on, we can do this, people! Stir each other up, but don’t take offense if someone else doesn’t follow your example or do what you encouraged, or even love someone as you would have them do! Encourage them, stir them up, then LET GO!

“He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
“He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25b).

(For additional perspective, see also Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 for discussion on members of the body having different functions, strengths and weaknesses, and also I Corinthians 13 for what love looks like!)

In the spirit of this post, please feel free to discuss or disagree, below! 😉