Posted in Wandering Mind

Dizzy Faith

For most people like me who were involved in christianity, there was a massive emphasis on faith. Debates about it, denominations and movements about it. Definitions of it and how to use it. On and On… In fact, it is proposed that faith is the difference between Jesus and the Torah, or Old and New, or jewish and christian. It goes so far that christians actually are led to believe by doctrine that they alone are the actual possessors of this “saving faith”.

For others, mainly people who even study the scriptures themselves, righteousness by faith was clearly predating the “New Testament”. It comes as a revelation to many that Paul himself quotes Genesis and says “Abraham believed God, and it was accredited to him as righteousness”. Different translations word it slightly differently, but the gist is Abraham believed God, and was considered righteous by that belief.

Basic christian concepts equate being declared righteous as the same thing Yah does in “saving” people. Righteousness is “imputed” to them fulfilling some kind of requirements for their status to change.

Faith is not ethereal

Faith in the context of Abraham is really evidenced by his actions rather than some internal thought or commitment. Actions demonstrate belief. Another classic verse used is “The righteous shall live by faith”. Sometimes it is “the just”, or justified. Regardless of the actual context of this verse, the piece of it quoted here is used even in the apostolic scriptures by Paul/Shaul as evidence that within the good news of the Kingdom itself, righteousness is revealed as being by faith. In the Apostolic writings, James slams this home with the famous “Faith without works is dead” statement. The evidence of faith is action. Abraham demonstrated his confidence in Yah by DOING.

Faith and works are inseparable. The works of a person, or their actions, reveal where they are at.

James also states a very interesting concept, yet does this in a very weird way. To me, this drives home the idea of what we do as the reality of righteouness vs simply something we say or believe

James 2:19 (NKJV) 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!

Think through this a bit….

  • You believe there is one God: Either this is simply basic monotheism, or something more. I suspect it is a reference tot he fundamental tenet of Israel which is the Shema, the greatest commandment. It is the declaration that YHVH is ONE, and that you should Love YHVH with all your heart, soul, mind etc…
  • You do well: This is a good thing. In fact Yeshua confirms this is the GREATEST COMMANDMENT.
  • Even the demons believe this… The things Yeshua casts out of people. The supernatural beings who live in essentially rebellion to the Kingdom of YHVH. By doing well, following the GREATEST COMMANDMENT, you are at the same level as demons.
  • And Tremble: This is the only time (in the greek version of the NT) the word is used. The word seems to mean being scared like when your hair stand on end.
    • Looking up the Greek word in the Septuagint tells us what translators used the Greek word for a Hebrew word (click here). The Septuagint uses the word twice, Jer 2:12, and Daniel 7:15 which is an Aramaic word.
    • The Hebrew word means to be very afraid, and also a whirlwind. I would say this is like when you are scared and possibly disoriented or even dizzy.

Why does this make them afraid to the point of their proverbial hair standing up on end? Because they are unable to do anything abut it. They “believe it” in their “mind”. They even know it to be true. And their lack of repentance, their inability to respond with the appropriate action renders them unable to resolve the problem. YHVH is ONE. Mighty, certainly. But there is NO OTHER MIGHTY ONE. Any variant of ONE you try to use (quantity, quality, unity etc…) results in a sinking, foreboding feeling to a demon. I believe that is because they simply will not, or cannot respond in repentance to this reality. They cannot put action to their belief. In this case, they cannot back up their faith with anything meaningful enough to reconcile the issue.


The next series of verses, and the supporting context of the whole concept follows

[Jas 2:20-23 NKJV] 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

So essentially, my take is:

You state that you believe in the fundamental and greatest commandment of the scriptures, the Shema. And this is great. It puts you on the same level as the demons. They agree with you on this, and are scared out of their wits about it because they cannot produce any works consistent with this.

Should you be concerned?

Posted in Biblical Calendar, Torah

Learning from the Mo’edim – Shavuot 2016

This post builds on the basic assumptions listed in Learning from the Mo’edim

Shavuot 2016

I dont post very much as Im so busy and honestly dont have energy and focus to sit down and write stuff out. I just happened to go back through some posts, noticed gobs of spelling errors and was correcting them, and read through last years Learning from the Mo’edim. It reminded me that I hadn’t written down things from this years Pesach or Shavuot.

I cannot recall much of Pesach. I don’t know why! I believe we had a family come over, eat some food and discuss the holiday. And we read through the Exodus together and discussed it. We have an age range of 4 to 8, and lots of interesting questions. I am always reminded of how much deeper I need to dig into these things and prepare.

Shavuot is a whole other challenge for me. 2016 had a bunch of discussions and differing opinions about timing of Pesach. Pesach (Passover) begins the calendar. There are so many ways different folks work around the start of the new year. I see the idea of barley being mature in the field as the indicator that the new year is able to start as the most simple and direct way presented in scripture so far. This is key as it starts the chain of events and dates that set the rest of the year timetable for holidays.

Once we hit Shavuot, I realized that I had made a serious mistake. We had planned a family trip to Alaska. We had to plan this way in advance, and I didnt realize that an appointed time occurred right in the middle of it. This isnt necessarily a problem.  I dont see where Shavuot is a Sabbath, but I might be confused or missing something. But by being on a trip, away from home, with my wonderful extended family who dont remotely care about this stuff threw me off. Combined with the last minute realization of it, I simply didnt give it the attention it deserved.

However, some interesting and redemptive things have occurred. Prior to the holiday, I began to really think about the classic role and reference to “the/The spirit/Spirit”. All the combinations. My background in christian culture, especially charismatic expression has resulted in a whole bunch of presuppositions and biases. There is a whole bunch of things Im unlearning, and it turns out this whole concept is under serious revision.

Oddly, I have come across lots of teaching resources about this very topic. I didnt go searching for it but I came across these resources seemingly accidentally. This has been encouraging that perhaps Im getting divinely guided.

The main ideas that seem to be working themselves out:

  1. The concept of Pentecost in christian context is related to the “giving” of “The Spirit”. This really seems to be plain wrong. There are plenty of references to the spirit of Yah being present from the creation forward. There is nothing new about the working of the Spirit of Yah in human history. What seems to be the new part is the idea of being IMMERSED, or BAPTIZED in the Spirit. I interpret this (so far in my limited understanding) as a quantitative idea. There is an intensification of the work and activity.
  2. The nature and identity of The Spirit is really changing in my mind. The best concept I have heard that seems to connect the dots of scripture for me is an interesting one. The idea of a distilled essence of something. It flies in the face of the classic trinitarian interpretation. The Spirit not being a “person” as much as the deep, distilled essence of Yehovah. This also resonates with a previous mental wrestling match.
  3. Yeshua now seems to embody the Spirit with skin. It is more and more to me that Yeshua IS the Salvation of Yahweh. The Strong Right Arm. And the practical mechanics to me is a picture of the distilled essence of Yah ut into a body with skin. Even the literal teaching of Yeshua brings the distilled essence of Torah to reality. The Sermon on the Mount, where Yeshua talks about the idea of not just murdering someone, but not hating them. The revealing of the distilled essence of the commandments comes out of the mouth of Yeshua, and Yeshua expects disciples who choose to submit to this same Spirit.

Im still in the weeds with these ideas. It is always a trap to listen to someone teach something, and then run with it. Im looking to take the ideas presented and then study and prove it with scripture. The next step is how to practically respond and adapt to the idea. What is Yah expecting of me? How do I agree with this and engage it?


Posted in Wandering Mind

The Worship Mall

A classic section of scripture I’ve read time and again, and heard referenced many more. There are interesting things about this passage like:

  • Yeshua is not some meek and mild, passive individual. He flipped over tables, chased out livestock, and no one could stop him.
  • Yeshua was keeping the Festivals, and in this case it is Passover. He traveled on foot to get there in time. This is a specific day, and in my understanding he had about 2 week notice to make this happen.
  • He went to the Temple. Clearly he wasn’t just a Jew, but an observant, Temple centered one.

But I caught something, and it ties into other things I’ve been learning by reading Torah. As I read Torah, I learn that there is a real heart to it. There are lots of  passages that keep describing not just specific behaviors, but themes.

Read through this first.

John 2:13-17 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”c

So yes, Yeshua was mad. Apparently Yeshua didn’t like the fact this was happening. Why is that?

Some people I know claim it wasn’t the buying and selling, it was the location. That may be. Yeshua specifically associates it with the verse about a “House of Prayer”, quoting  Isaiah. The intention for the Temple itself was to be a place for all nations to gather and engage in intimacy with Yahweh.  I’ve never been to the Temple Mount, but I hear it is quite large, and it was by many accounts even bigger 2000 years ago. This must have either been a massive operation, or perhaps there is an even bigger issue underneath . . .

It’s the HEART

Possibly this issue is something even deeper. There are some concepts that occurred to me, and it involves how profound the Feast of Passover is, and how the Torah instructs us to interact with one another.

Passover is Big

The Passover is perhaps the single biggest event in the faith practiced by Yeshua. This is true even of a religion like Judaism (My take is Yeshua was Jewish by ethnicity, but not by practice of a religion). Passover is an event, followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They are not technically the same thing, but they are associated with each other as if they were the same thing.

The Passover is simply the single most defining event in Israel’s history. They were essentially birthed by the Exodus from Egypt.

It is also the first Feast of the New Year. The New Year begins in the month of Aviv. While some people believe this is in the 7th month, there isnt any support for this. It is a creation of a Babylonian context, and Babylon is never associated with anything positive in scripture. In fact it is associated with everything negative.

Every Adult male is required to come up to Jerusalem and celebrate the Feast. They are to present a Lamb, or develop a connection with other families and share the Lamb. By some accounts of this era is that there were hundreds of thousands of lambs being sacrificed in the afternoon of this specific day. If true,this would mean multiple dozens of thousands of men coming into Jerusalem from all over the area. This is a massive amount of people, who are travelling, and where there is this many people far from home, there is money to be made.

Loving your Neighbor

Yehovah makes constant reference to the approach you are to have in dealing with your neighbor. Whether they are rich or poor, you are to treat them fairly.  You are to seek out their best. If they are poor you are to lend them money, and do everything you can to help them stay living in the land in any way possible. In Leviticus 19 it specifically states to love your neighbor as yourself. It describes a generosity of heart. An interest for each other. A way to help support others and facilitate them to obey commands, enjoy the blessings of the God of Israel, and thrive.

I see this in all the commands. Even the hard and painful ones about sending people away or even executing them. As hard and traumatic as it would be, YHVH explains that the reason for something this intense is to protect everyone else from falling into the same issues and losing out on the blessings.

Getting Practical From the Heart

So if I were an average Joe travelling up from dozens to hundreds of miles away through deserts full of bandits, possible complications, and various trials. I might be bringing my sons, and even wife and daughters if they want to come along (they aren’t required). It is a lot of logistics. And I need a lamb. I need a beautiful one too, not just some cheap excuse to fulfill my obligations. YHWH doesn’t want just basic, ritualistic actions, but a heart motivated action that is coming form JOY.

But I’m excited to be in the big city, at the most significant time of the calendar. It is one of the Moedim, an appointed time where the God of creation meets with us. And I’m commanded to do this, for at least 8 days. There is at least 1 weekly Sabbath, and there are potentially 2 others within this week. I can’t work, as I’m not at home. I’m not able to bring my own lamb, and I have limited ability to bring infrastructure.

So the way I see it, is that if I live in Jerusalem it is my job to welcome in these people who are not just my countrymen, but fellow brothers and sisters in our faith. And in fact, they are going to be m literal neighbors for at least 8 days if not longer. I need to proactively love these people. But how?

The most practical thing I could do is to meet any of these wonderful pilgrims, and try to help them any way I can! Can I find some lambs and help them supply their needs? Can I make it as easy and cheap as possible so they can enjoy and celebrate as much as possible? Is there a way that I can help them and support them and celebrate with them? And can I do it without worrying about what Im going to “wear or eat”? As Yeshua teaches in other places, we are to give to whomever asks, to give more. And to care for my neighbor in every way.

Setting up a shopping mall is the wrong idea. Not just practically either. The Temple itself is NO PLACE for any business transactions between people. It is a place, THE PLACE for transactions between God and Man. It is offensive.

But it also goes against the very heart that seems to underlay the commands themselves. Taking advantage of people who are earnestly trying to come and obey the Torah is patently WRONG. Taking opportunity to make profit off of someone else while they are weary, hard pressed, and displaced is wrong. It isn’t the heart of being a God directed neighbor. Taking opportunity wouldn’t be wrong at other times, but doing it during what is arguable the most important time of the year is worse.

What is the Real Beef?

I think it is all of it.

  • The heart of the matter is to keep the Temple HOLY, set apart for God and Man.
  • The paradigm of a Jerusalemite is to welcome my fellow people as neighbors.
  • Part of being a neighbor is to ensure that anyone who desires is able to participate. The deeper heart is to see my neighbor able to do this as easy as possible.
  • Part of loving my neighbor as myself is also to protect the integrity of the process. Encouraging others to maintain integrity. Protecting them from giving in the opportunistic greed and taking advantage of the pilgrims, the Temple mount, or the holiday.
  • Charging interest, high interest, or other types of behavior like this is an indicator my heart is worried or fearful. People can argue wether any interest is acceptable. The main point is during a holiday, if not THE Holiday.

The negatives make it so that the whole point is missed. It doesn’t communicate the Heart of Yahweh, nor does it facilitate the heart response Yah is looking for in Yah’s people.

Im sure there is a lot of different things Im not seeing, but this really grabbed my attention. It is the heart as much as anything to me so far.

Posted in Wandering Mind


So a question that is pinging around in my head is something I’ve never actually considered. This is my 2nd or 3rd time going through the Gospels via the chronological method in the Daily Bible. It is a great way to read through as it attempt to harmonize the 4 different accounts. It is also a great way to read my part of the bible as it integrates things like psalms into the chronicles, and minor prophets in with Daniel etc…

We are early on and this verse caught my attention. John 4:24

New International Version
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

This seems like a simple enough statement, but it really is not. I have heard lots of people talk about it and interpret it. But honestly I cannot seem to yet hear something that really “clicks”.

But the first part is what is really giving me pause. God is spirit. God, meaning YHVH of course, is spirit. However the NIV translates some subsequent usages of the word spirit as the Spirit, meaning they have decided it must mean what trinitarians talk about when they say the “Holy Spirit”.

Not all translations do this so I have to assume the text underneath doesn’t communicate this.

However, the real question is (to me at this point:

If YHVH is spirit, then how is the Spirit, The Spirit, the Holy Spirit etc… something else or something different?

Talking about the Holy Spirit as an entity and an individual, or a “part of God” etc… makes no sense. If God is already spirit, then anything related to the Holy Spirit is talking about a different spirit. Buy we know God is ONE, total unity. So is the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Grace etc..)just a piece cut off and sent on a mission? If it is a different spirit, then we are in big trouble. If it is a part of God, then God divides itself up into portions?

And then interesting questions come to mind about Yeshua’s own words that He must go to the Father so the Holy Spirit could come. Since God is spirit, it must be located in a specific location, and not able to be somewhere else? And what about in Torah and Tanakh where it talks about the Spirit of God, and how it came upon Saul, and David and others? It is drawing a clear, pre-christian, pre-trinitarian view of an active agent of God, that is also referenced as spirit.

I do not wish to denigrate God, or to be  casual. Im simply trying to grasp something I previously just swallowed and emulated and defined my experiences with. It doesnt add up. Im guessing a lot of this comes down to pre-programming and bias where we will present the scriptures and try to help the reader (by putting the and a) and capitalizing words as to direct them into a pattern of thinking.


Posted in Wandering Mind


Thank you to the decade of the 70’s


So Yeshua claims to be the “Bread from Heaven”, and also says that He has Bread to eat we don’t know about. Two of the miracles is multiplying bread. At the last meal together, bread is used as a signal to expose the enemy, ans well as demonstrate the coming tearing of the physical body of Yeshua.

According to the genealogies given in the gospel accounts, Yeshua is a descendant of David. Yeshua was born in the “City of David”, Bethlehem.

Bethlehem in Hebrew is basically 2 words; Bet-Lechem

Bet is both a word, and a letter. The word Bet means house.

Lechem means Bread.

Bet-Lechem = House of Bread

Yeshua was born in the House of Bread. And Bread was a regular reference to help explain and His mission.

Posted in Torah, Wandering Mind

Understanding the Parables via the Torah

The more and more I learn and study and absorb the scriptures (and it is truly both a luxury and a work of Great Grace I don’t even want to take for granted!), the more I also UN-learn things as well as see connections. These connections were there the whole time, yet I simply didnt have eyes to see them.

Ive NEVER been a reader, let alone or studier of scriptures. I could read it, and the more I read it the better things went and felt, but it was never a joy. I would get so jealous of people who talked about how much they loved “the word”, and how they wished they had more time for it, I just felt like I was getting ripped off. Something that was so vital and supposed to be so rewarding was like taking my vitamins. So I basically never really made a priority.

And when I did, I tended to get twisted out of shape. Id use the classic approach I was seeing (or interpreting) from my culture. Id read verses, or maybe a chapter, and then find some little piece and run with it. And I still believe that God still does highlight things, but I never had the ability or the interest to grasp the context, or the setting, and never realized or experienced the reward or the connection to anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if I find out in hindsight that YHVH in Wisdom might have been restraining this payoff. Somehow I have to believe it was more than accidental as the tremendous transformation that Ive experienced. Im so grateful, and I dont want to lose this.

A tip someone gave me, and something I do far more now is listen to scripture. I mostly love to listen to people who read it and discuss it, giving context and historical elements. It does get hard when people go too far into their interpretation rather than presenting the info. It is so easy to do, even without knowing it.  I also listen to this during exercise, like running or working out at the gym. Sometimes when we go on long drives, and Ill get to listen to several sessions over a 2-3 hour period.

I highly recommend Torah Class,  as well as just about everything Ive heard from Nehemia Gordon. There are gobs of other people out there, these are just ones I listen to often.


Yeshua helps you apply Torah

This concept is becoming clearer and clearer to me. I have come to the conviction that not only is the “New” testament not New, it isnt different from the Torah. It is far more the application of Torah. That can sound totally bizarre to people, and I get that. But until I spent significant time studying Torah, I didnt understand the context, or the setting for the words of Yeshua, let alone Paul , Peter or the rest of the apostles.

And then this conversion began to happen, and as I hear or read the Torah, I can “map” things immediately to the Gospel accounts or the apostolic writings. I understand the context or the reference point those “New” words are coming from. And I realize without the frame, these “New” words are very easy to not only misunderstand, but misapply. And because they are considered “New”, and disconnected from anything, they become great opportunities for DOCTRINE.

Simple statements, taken not only out of context, but without context, have no anchor point. So they become the basis for an idea, which over time morphs into a doctrinal position, and serves as a foundation for a theology. This is not only dangerous, I find it sometimes anti-Torah. This means either God changes, and meant one thing before, and another thing later, or scripture itself is inconsistent.

I believe anything that comes later has to be 100% in agreement with what was said first, or it is to be thrown out! God gives us that guideline as a way to understand when someone is claiming to be transmitting information from God. That simple premise puts together a framework for understanding that is surprisingly easy.

At this point, the best I can describe it is something like:


  • Epistles base themselves on the person of Yeshua, and the application of the reality of the Messiah going forward.
  • Gospels proclaim the Messiah, and use the Prophets to place Messiah in context. Yeshua teaches the Torah and lives it out in a practical way, revealing the whole heart aspects of it. Yeshua = Torah with Flesh and proclaims a repentance back to obedience to Torah, while at the same time explaining what is to come.
  • Prophets proclaim repentance back to obedience to Torah, or face the consequences. As well, they explain in concept what is to come.
  • Torah is the basis, and the foundation all latter words refer to for authenticity. Without it, a prophetic utterance is without a foundation. Without Torah, Yeshua has no message, because there is no definition for either sin (missing the Torah) or righteousness.

If any subsequent block breaks with the previous, then it is unacceptable. If something appears to be contradictory, then it can only truly come down to a few different areas:

  • You are misunderstanding what is being said
  • The translation of what you are reading has failed to accurately represent the original. This is often a bias from the christian or jewish side protecting some pet doctrine, or trying to point the reader or hearer a specific direction.
  • What you are reading or hearing is false, and you must reject it.
Posted in Wandering Mind

Reduction-ism and Idolatry

[Exo 20:4-5 NIV] 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
It stunned me to realize this passage wasnt about paganism! I had always thought of it in terms of bowing down to another god. But in reality, I believe YHVH is talking about worshiping YHVH using objects. Objects might be sneakier than it sounds. In modern, western society and culture, we dont have objects as a common  experience, we have concepts. I think they might be interchangeable in this case, because I think the underlying principle is Yahweh has never showed us Yahweh’s form or appearance.
We may have heard the voice coming from the mountain top,  but we didnt see our God
[Deu 4:12 NIV] 12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.
 and just a bit further
[Deu 4:12, 15-16 NIV] 12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. … 15 You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman,
YHVH wanrs us, commands us actually, not to worship YHVH with any created image. Not to ascribe anything to YHVH, because YHVH is not anything we have ever seen. And the moment we try to create a form in order to express characteristics (strength, wisdom, kindness etc…) we will inadvertently make that characteristic the object of worship. Aaron made the image of a calf to worship YHVH. He wasnt encouraging worship of another god in his mind. The calf was representative of the ox I believe. Egypt worshiped the ox because of its strength. Even the word “god” comes for the word for “luck or fortune”. Even the term itself is awful. We worship a “god” because we seek good fortune.
[Exo 32:3-5 NIV] 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.”
So if we try hard to define and express and form something that is really just a characteristic, even if we somehow got it accurate enough to even be true, we are at serious risk. We can focus on the characteristic, and fall into idolatry all the while we think we are talking about YHVH! We can easily believe we are promoting real worship and intimacy and connection. But YHVH says it is forbidden to do this.
We o it with the Torah. We do it with being a “real man” or a “Godly woman”. We do it with anything. In my life I have to constantly turn away from this. I take a concept, and turn it into an idealized image. Then I use the image to conceptualize YHVH. It seems right, feels right, and honestly it might even have a element of truth! YHVH is MIGHTY! Yahweh is KIND! But YHWH is not a list of attributes.  YHWH is, by nature, these things. They are good and righteous and true when we experience them because they are like YAH. To the extent they are consitent and have integrity with the God of the Universe, they are real and true.
But they are not God. And the danger is as we get more and more focused on an attribute, we not only lose the bigger picture, but we begin to become a “specialist” at that attribute. And we can begin to worship God in that attribute, and we begint he process of idolatry all over again.
God warns us over and ove and over again about idolatry. Even the more sophisticated among us realize idolatry is the worship of something other than God. But what if idolatry is worshiping God  from our own conceptual framework? Using something we understand and know and fashion ourselves, just with our mind instead of our hands? The Torah doesnt tend to separate all these things as much as we do.
In fact, that desire to reduce, and separate and isolate parts of ourselves might just be the underlying cause and catalyst for idolatry….