Sabbath Ponderings: Bread of Life

 

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Excitement boils in the air most Friday mornings. My little 5 year old often pipes, “Today is the day to make the Challah bread!” Long become a favored ‘tradition’ around here, now I see how much more deeply these ‘new’ ‘Jewish’ traditions, remind me of my Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus). Would they know how far apart we had come from the early century of believers? Would they embrace this new zeal and love for our LORD? Would they understand that with God, there is NO Jew or Greek, and these things we do are because WE are grafted into Israel and NOT the other way around? Oh, my heart…I hope so! I hope each ‘new tradition’ we come across points us to the One who loved us SO much, that He came to die so that we may live in and through Him, reconciled to God. I pray that their sweet little hearts embrace Him more and more, wanting to live and love for Him.

Researching some of the ‘traditions’ of the meaning behind the Challah bread, I was amazed beyond belief just how much they remember Him. However, simply ‘remembering’ alone isn’t enough. We have to internalize those memories. We have to draw close to a very personal and loving God. For me, today, the meaning of the Challah bread changed entirely.

Suddenly, I saw the bread as a remembrance of Christ. In the tradition, two loaves are made to symbolize the two portions of manna in the wilderness. The verse, about Jesus being the bread of life, when read in context–He was speaking to His disciples about the manna in the desert. They ate this bread, but still died. When we ‘eat’ of His ‘bread of life’ we live…eternally.

Making Challah bread has several processes and requires patience–something my girls don’t like so much. You have to let the yeast froth, which takes all of about 10 minutes. Then, you slowly add the ingredients, kneading by hand for 15 minutes. Then, it is left to rise for 2-3 hours until doubled and finally, you ‘punch’ the air out of the bread before separating. Suddenly, the image of Christ, beaten and bruised for my sins, came rushing in. Each pull, each punch, each twist reminded me of what He had gone through for me. Seeing the bread ‘rise’ because of the yeast/leaven. This is usually seen as a bad thing in the Bible when referenced to the Pharisees, but today….I see it as the ‘leaven’ or ‘doctrine’ of the Messiah. The one who came to serve. The one who came to give me life. The one who gave it all for me….shouldn’t I give my all to Him?

 

Book Review: the stickyfaith guide for your family

From the back cover:

Nearly half of all young people raised in Christian families walk away from their faith when they graduate from high school. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: Parents are one of the primary influences on building a lasting faith in their children.

This isn’t the first time I have seen this quote…..nor will it be the last. Survey’s have been done and the statistics are there. My question I often ask is what percentage of those learn in hostile, non-believing environments (secular public schools and colleges for example), parent’s are too busy working to spend time studying with their children, or depend upon church leadership to ‘evangelize’ and ‘sharpen’ their children’s hearts?

This book lists many ways to create a ‘sticky faith’ environment for your children from Why to Communities, all the way down to Transitions–leaving home for example. I appreciate the ‘ideas’ in each section (differentiated by light bulb images), and ‘your family’ sections to help you search your family. The ending of each section also has a “Our Family’s Steps toward Sticky Faith” questionnaire, complete with 1-5 scales to rate some of your answers.

While the only book that holds up to 100% accuracy, and is ‘the’ guideline for life, home, etc. is the Bible, this book is handy if you feel you need something more ‘contemporary.’ SO many books are out there to encourage and guide you on this path, and perhaps that is one of our biggest challenges as parents.

While I occasionally enjoy books like this that help, many times I find it doesn’t really work for *my* family. I fear we have become an entertainment driven society and just the Bible alone isn’t good enough anymore. It was, however, good enough for my 85 year old grandma who raised almost a dozen kids. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I believe we need to get the whole word, in context, into our hearts and the heart of our children. God promises that His word never returns void.

Review disclaimer

Sabbath Ponderings: Day Set Apart

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Image from A Little Perspective

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.   (Colossians 2:16-17)

Interesting how in my NKJV, starting at verse 11, this section is labeled “Not Legalism but Christ.” Considering there were no subject headings in the original Greek, we created them for what we call ‘better flow.’ Not always true.

Since beginning this ‘new path,’ I have come across MANY testimonals and blogs that I enjoy reading. Many that I do not. Many people, including Evangelical Pastors, use these verses to tell us that these things, including Sabbath, are done away with. Hmm. With much prayer for wisdom and guidance, late late nights of studying with Strong’s and Thayer’s Greek New Testament Lexicon, and a hungry spirit, I hope you will allow me to share what I have found.

Starting off, the first thing I did was look in Strong’s and write down EVERY reference to the Sabbath in the Bible. I found 93 Scriptures in the Old Testament, but even more surprising is that I found 55 in the New Testament. Obviously this ‘day’ was a big deal.

Strong’s G4521- “day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself). The root means “to cease, desist”; the doubled b has an intensive force, implying a complete cessation or a making to cease.” Interesting enough, if you read all the way through to #11, you will find this note: For the first three centuries of the Christian era the first day of the week was never confounded with the “sabbath”; the confusion of the Jewish and Christian institutions was due to declension (a falling off or away; deterioration) from apostolic teachingWHOA! That is in Strong’s!! Not a Jewish book, not a Messianic book, not a Hebrew Roots book…Strong’s. The same book many Christians, Pastors, seminaries, and Speakers use for language studies!

How many times have you heard us say, “we want to be a New Testament church!” or an ‘Acts’ church…..post coming on that later……….

Being one who loves the word and loves languages, I can’t just let a word go without seeking out it’s ORIGINAL meaning. We often take words for granted. Yes, we have an English Bible, but it was written by Hebrew men, into the Greek language, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Phew…does that rattle your brain?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch……as I said before, these verses are often used as ‘proof’ that Sabbath, and the “Jewish” festivals/feasts are done away with. Um…read Leviticus 23…right out of the gate we are in big trouble. Who does God say Sabbath and the Feasts belong to? ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’ That is just in verse 1!!! They are HIS feasts!

Now, back to Colossians. Verse 17 has the evidence in question. These things are a shadow. Here is what Vine’s says about the word shadow in this verse: of “the image” or “outline” cast by an object,” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon saysan image cast by an object and representing the form of that object. So, they are a ‘shadow’ but the ‘body’ is of Christ (v 17). 

Just because it is a ‘shadow’ doesn’t mean that it has disappeared. When we think of Sabbath, we think of the ‘rest’ Jesus gives (come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest), and we think of the Great Sabbath Rest spoken of in the NT, which is yet to come. You see, a shadow serves a purpose, even when the body is already come. On a sunny day, you cast a shadow, yet you haven’t disappeared. The shadow looks like you, but it may be distorted–shorter, taller, etc. So it was with the Sabbath, or any of the Feasts of the Lord.

To *really* get to the heart of what I am talking about, and the Pharisees Jesus was opposing/the Judaizers Paul was battling, you need to learn more about THEM. How? Read the Talmud-a collection of ‘Oral Laws’  (online free here). They created 23 laws just for Sabbath making sure they did it just right! They ADDED TO God’s Word! Jesus said Sabbath was created for US. It’s a gift. It’s a good thing. They were using it to trap people, as well as to show how ‘holy’ and ‘righteous’ they were…on the OUTSIDE…remember Jesus’ talk with them?!?

To put it into perspective, with some humor attached, read this article on the Oral Law by Nehemia Gordon.

So where am I in all of this now? Learning day by day. I now see Sabbath, which is Saturday (7th day according to God), as a ‘date’ with the Lord. A day HE appointed and set apart. A day HE blessed. A day HE chose. A day ‘set apart’ unto Him. What does that look like? Whatever He calls me to. Be it rest, be it study, be it fellowship, or be it ‘serving’ in His kingdom…whatever HE chooses for me.

Be a Berean! Pray much for wisdom and discernment! Buy a good Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Get Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. Or, go to Blue Letter Bible and use all of these neat tools for free. Don’t just take everything that everyone says to you and make it your doctrine. Make the LIVING WORD OF GOD your doctrine. Finish what the Reformers started–they put the Bible into the hands of the common man–now we have the Holy Spirit and tools to understand the Bible for ourselves and not be ‘swayed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.’

Life Lesson #1: Gymnastics and a Pool Noodle

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And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV)

I know, I know…I’m good at ‘starting things’ but not always good at the follow through. My life story. I was supposed to be blogging through, and reading “Praying the Names of God.” However, something else has come ‘up.’ A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9 NKJV). Maybe next week….

How can a pool noodle during gymnastics seem to change SO much?!?

Recently I have been going through an odd phase. I have been digging into the Word more. Using my Strong’s and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. Questions in my mind didn’t make sense, but that’s a whole other story. I begin the journey in this post about seeking Ancient Paths.

I have been amazed at the many ways the Lord will use to teach us. Just read the Gospels–full of parables and the use of everyday items so that, for many, the point would come across. As one who is a very visual learner, I appreciate Jesus’ teaching style. I can imagine Him walking past sheep folds and telling His disciples that HE is the Good Shepherd.

My daughter’s love gymnastics. They recently enrolled at a really awesome gym. One of Miss E’s favorite parts is working on the balance beam. Yesterday, they were using a pool noodle to help them with balance. Today, that pool noodle/balance trick would teach me a lesson.

One passage that has often troubled me, came from Jesus Himself. It is found in Matthew 7. We all know it–the ‘narrow path.’ MANY find the broad path, few find the narrow path. Right before that, Jesus tells them to ‘ask, seek, knock.’ So…narrow path. Keep reading. He talks about fruit, false prophets…then the verses that scare me to death:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Who is He speaking to? The ‘sinners,’ the ‘pagans?’ No….you see, He was speaking to believers.

Pew research from 2011, the last date searched, finds that Christianity makes up about 32% of the world’s population. Factoring in growth, that number has virtually unchanged from a century ago. “Few there be that find it……..”

Back to the pool noodle. This is the way I have recently described that ‘narrow path’ to my mom when we were talking. “The narrow path reminds me of a tight rope.It’s difficult to maintain balance on a tight rope, especially early on. Wiggle a little to the right and you dip your toe into ‘legalism.’ Wiggle a little to the left and you dip your toe into sin.” Sin is transgression of the law. What law? God’s law…and not just the 10 Commandments although that is a big part. Can we also ‘dip’ into lawless grace? Paul tells us that grace isn’t a license to sin. Using the excuse we are ‘living by the Spirit’ and ‘God’s laws are for Israel, not us, He wrote them on our heart.’ So–what is lawlessness? Being without law….This is NOT a salvation issue. Salvation is a gift, THROUGH grace, BY faith. Faith is not just a mental belief, for ‘even the demons tremble and believe.’ Faith is an action….James says faith without works is dead.

Think about your child….you want them to obey, right? Not to earn your favor but because they love you and respect the boundaries you have set for their GOOD. Not to be a tyrant. That is what happened with God’s laws. The Pharisees couldn’t just ‘follow.’ No–they needed them ‘explained’ and used human wisdom to do so. They created an oral law that we now know as the Talmud. 23 LAWS alone for how to ‘correctly’ observe Sabbath, here is a sample. As if God’s words weren’t enough, they had to *explain it* and add to it.

Ever wonder why Jesus and the Pharisees fought over picking grain to eat, healing on the Sabbath, etc.? Well, to understand you would have to know the oral law (KNOW, not FOLLOW–there IS a difference). God never commanded any of those as bad–we have to eat on the Sabbath. If we love others, we obey God by helping them…EVEN on the Sabbath. Yet the Talmud explanation would have it that by them rubbing the grain in their hands, they were nearly ‘harvesting’ the grain, therefore they were working. Did you know the Talmud also says that you CAN NOT write, nor erase, two letters on the Sabbath?!?

To me, this is how I saw the pool noodle that day. We have been given the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He would bring ALL things that He had said to our remembrance. God would write His LAWS on our heart….to me, that day, I saw the pool noodle as the Holy Spirit ‘balancing’ me on that ‘narrow path’ aka balance beam. And so, off I go…wobbling here and there, digging, studying and praying (holding my noodle) more than ever before. Join me, won’t you?!?

Blogging & Reading

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A while back, I made an announcement on Facebook that I was going to be reading, and blogging, through the book Desperate by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae. I actually made it through the first chapter, the questions, and the video. And I learned A LOT! However, while talking to the Lord, I learned so much more. The lack of peace, and the calm that I was seeking can only be found one place. Prayer. I had become very lax in my prayer life. I was also thirsting to know more about the Lord, and to learn more about the Jewish roots of my faith.

So…with that in mind, something new was placed on my heart and ANY and ALL of you are welcome to follow along with me, simply like my FB page and/or subscribe if you want to journey with me. We will start Monday! Would love to interact with you here as well.

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This is my starting point so to speak. This book is available here on Amazon in both physical form, and for Kindle, Barnes and Noble, as well as most Christian bookstores. During this time, I will also be reading through the Bible and blogging about that as well.

Would love to have you join me!!