Friday, March 31, 2017

Looking Back The Balance of Power and the Past

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is the last day of March in my corner of blog land. Tomorrow we begin April, and according to the book of Exodus, (Shemot) it is also the month of Nisan in which the Festival of Passover occurs. Biblically speaking, Happy New Year!

See Exodus chapter 12. Remember, the Hebrew calendar is lunar/solar whose months start with the appearance of the new moon.

As we continue our look back at faith heritage, I want to share with you this post, a short commentary from the Website www.torah.org. It is based on the reading for this week from the Torah and in particular, Leviticus 1 through Leviticus chapter 5 verse 26. This will give you a snapshot of what this book is about and the belief of the time.
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Note from the Director
Perfection
In this week’s reading, we begin the third of the 5 Books of Moses, Vayikra, or Leviticus. It was undoubtedly dubbed "Leviticus" because much of it concerns the Temple services, done by the Kohanim, the Priests, descendents of Aharon HaKohen, of the tribe of Levi.

Here, at the beginning of the book, some of the first offerings to be discussed are those when various individuals commit a serious transgression through negligence -- by, for example, forgetting that the behavior was prohibited. And the Torah prescribes different offerings based upon who committed this sin: there is an offering for a High Priest who transgresses. Then there is one for "all of Israel," by which the Torah means if the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court, were to rule incorrectly in a matter of law, only realizing its error later. Then there is one for the King, and finally for the common individual.

Long before the modern era, the Jews had a Balance of Powers. No one could claim absolute authority; rather, King David himself had to consult with both the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Sanhedrin.

But furthermore, everyone had to second-guess his own conduct -- even the King, even the Sanhedrin itself. There is no equivalent to "papal infallibility" in Judaism; on the contrary, no individual could avoid the possibility of transgression.

We could seek no better proof for the idea that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. So no one should look back at the past, and lose hope for the future. Nothing can stand in the way of sincerely turning back to the correct path, because G-d will always accept a sincerely repentant person. And as we see in this week’s reading, everyone does indeed make mistakes -- even the judges themselves!

Kevod Yeheveh, His redeeming presence sustains us.

I look forward to visiting with you again.

Mellow Rock

Monday, March 27, 2017

Don't Know Much About History (classic song, 1970s, Faith Heritage Continued)

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is March 27, in my corner of blog land.

I titled this post, Don't Know Much About History, based on a popular song in the recent past sung by various artists, which espouses romantic love as a certainty even though the lyricist claims not to be an expert in the humanities. Recently, I learned from some discussion with others that history today focuses on the reason for events as opposed to when events occurred. When we read Bible stories, there is a school of thought called Purpose History that encourages a similar approach. It encourages us to ask:
Who is the audience? What are they being told? What reaction might they have to what they're being told?
What is the ultimate result of this information they have received?
How would you or how do you respond to this?

This removes the us versus them or minimizes it. You realize human beings were living and responding to something occurring then for some reason. For example, the last three minor prophets wrote after the Israelites returned from 70 years of exile to Babylon. Conditions were pretty bad and these committed people had to rebuild the temple, rebuild Jerusalem, and rebuild life as once known. They took their sweet time in doing so, and Haggi, the prophet, urged them with God's message to do otherwise, which they did!

Today, the Christian church still likes to blame the Israelites for being neglectful, forgetful, sarcastic, accusing, misinformed, and that Yeshua and G-d had it with the old covenant and instituted something brand-spanking new that is the be all and end all. Now, just love your neighbor as yourself and love God. That's it. Nothing else required. Soon, the hymn of the day may be, "All You Need Is Love" by the Beetles; some argue for their song, "Imagine."
Have the rules changed, asks writer Skip Moen.
Author Skip Moen makes some telling observations on how the Christian church may be doing with this mode of peration:
I say, congratulations Catholics, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Church of Christ, Quakers, Christian Reformed, American Baptists, Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, you're doing a "damn" good job. Woohoo!

1. Do justice – recent reports rank the USA near the bottom of countries with equal opportunities for self-realization. We might quibble over the measurement, but any serious look at our society certainly demonstrates a lack of justice.
2. Righteousness – since the Bible defines righteousness as alignment with Torah in relation to God, even a cursory review of American society shrieks disconnect here. The fact that American religious institutions lead the way against Torah should be enough to make us shudder.
3. Deliver the one who has been robbed of power – Today’s legal environment seems to do just the opposite. Coddle to the one in power. Ignore the oppressed. On a national scale, we fail.
4. Do not mistreat – The Bible lists those near to God’s heart. As far as I can tell, the stranger, orphan and widow have a very difficult time in this society. There are approximately 400,000 children in foster care in the USA. Perhaps we find solace in the fact that there are 60 million orphans in Asia, but what excuse is there for 400,000 in the richest nation on earth?
5. Innocent blood – Since Roe v. Wade, almost 60 million children have been killed before they were born. They are the most innocent of all innocents. Did we think there were no spiritual-social consequences for this atrocity?
Jeremiah is right. We have the results. In Jeremiah’s time it led to Babylon. Do you think God changed the rules somewhere along the way?

Kevod Yeheveh, His presence become your shalom!

Mellow Rock

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Looking At Words (David Russell)

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is the second day of Spring or Autumn depending on what side of the equator one is on. I am on the side favoring Spring. I love many of you on the Autumnal side though. I appreciate a couple of you who have subscribed to my blog from the UK.

A few weeks ago I subscribed to the Weekly Prayer Letter by author and teacher, Joseph Shulam. He is based in Israel, and has an international ministry but this particular newsletter has been of interest. I share the content with you as it fits in our current look at faith heritage. I title this post, Looking At Words, because that is what this reflection by Mr. Shulam is largely about. I hope you enjoy and are also informed.
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The Jerusalem Prayer List – February 23, 2017
By Joseph Shulam  – From Belo-Horizonte, Brazil
We have been in Brazil for a week.  In the city of Vitoria we had the privilege of inaugurating a new congregation.  The name of the new congregation is Hesed V’Emet – Grace and Truth.  The text is taken from John 1:14, 17.  In the English Bibles and in other Christian Bibles you will find this term only in John chapter 1:14,17 – but if you check the Hebrew Bible you will find it more than 20 times.  The key to understand this term is in Exodus 34:6-7.  The reason that you don’t find this term in most Christian Bibles in the Old Testament is that the Christian translators decided that it would be confusing for Christians to find “Grace and Truth” in the Old Testament since the text in John 1:17, says: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  So if Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ – there must have not been Grace and Truth in the Torah or the Prophets or the Writings (the Old Testament).  Wherever there was “Grace and Truth” the translators masked it by using synonyms like: Gen. 24:49 “if you will deal kindly and truly” – Ex. 34:6 “abounding in goodness and truth” – 2Sam. 15:20 “Mercy and truth be with you.” – Psa. 25:10 “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” – Psa. 40:10 “Your lovingkindness and Your truth.” – Psa. 85:10 “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.”   These are just a few examples from the Old Testament.  The translators masked the fact that the Torah and the Prophets and the Writings – the whole Tanach – is full of Grace and Truth, and they did it by using synonyms.  So, we have a new congregation associated with Netivyah in Israel by the name Grace and Truth – Hesed V’ Emet.  We took a Torah Scroll as a gift for the new congregation and they have built a wonderful Torah Cabinet and a reading table.  However, the most wonderful thing about this congregation is that it is made up by young families full of energy and zeal to please God and to do His will.  Most of the members – are survivors of a previous congregation that we had a hand in establishing in the same city – a congregation that developed spiritual and moral mold and an abusive leadership of directed by women.  So, praise the Lord that gave Noah and his generation an boat to ride out the storm, and not in the city of Vitoria – there is God’s Hesed V’Emet – His grace and truth – to provide a home and a community for healthy growth and godly leadership that will work together and network with all brothers and sisters in that city and in Brazil.
This week the Parasha is Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1-24:18), The Haftarah (Reading from the Prophets is: Jeremiah 34:1-22, and the reading from the New Covenant is Mathew 15:1-14.
Immediately after God gave HIS instructions for everyone at the foot of Mt. Sinai – God expands his instructions (The Ten Commandments) and details the laws and the statues for the children of Israel and for every civilized society. The text starts with the laws of how to handle the weakest link in the society at that time, how do deal with a Hebrew slave.  The Torah sets limitations to power and authority.  When there is a person who out of circumstances in life had to become a slave – and even if you are a master – you can’t do with your slave as you wish.  You can’t abuse the slave, and you must remember that the slave is your “brother.”  There are so many interesting laws that God has given his children to regulate and have a society that is responsible for the weak and for the strong, and treats the weak and the strong, the poor and the rich, righteously and with disregard for the social position or political power.  Please read the the Torah and the Prophets and the passage in the New Testament and ask yourself the following questions: 1) Why did tradition chose the following readings in the Prophets and in the New Testament to accompany the reading of the Torah?  2) What are the principles and benefits that I can glean from these texts that would help me become a better person and a more faithful servant of God?

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These are questions we can all use in whatever portion of G-d's Word we are considering. Until next visit, Kevod Yeheveh, may the presence of G-d be very real to you and me!

Mellow Rock
David Russell

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Yeshua the Messiah a Legalist? (David Russell)

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is March 15 in my corner of blog land, historically known as the Eides of March. On this historic date before the common era, Roman ruler Julius Caesar was put to death as he was deemed to be too dictatorial for what several wanted from Roman rule. They wanted more leniency from Government. Several decades later, during the latter part of the first century when the Messianic believers were both consisting of Jew and non-Jew, customs and culture were being worked out. Most worshipped on the Sabbath, and many observed the "law of Moses" as it defined moral and ethical behavior toward humanity and personal regard and reverence for G-d.

According to an online article titled "Understanding Acts 15" by Robert Clanton from www.auburn.edu, he notes there are two types of gentiles, non-Jews, described throughout the Bible.

-Proselytes: This person is also called the "sojourner" as he might be regarded as Jewish in religion. The proselyte if male, is circumcised, and thus bound by the Sabbaths, 613 commandments, and may have been a God-fearer but then decided to adapt proselyte status. He made the choice.

-The God-fearer is the gentile who denied belief or adherence to foreign gods and idols regarded by pagans and other gentiles. He/she professed faith in the one true G-d. These persons were not required circumcision, but if they did observe the feast of Passover, males were to be circumcised. They were not required to keep the ceremonial law in order to "participate or enter the congregation of God." They did observe the Sabbath and other feasts out of choice and desire rather than obligation!

Today, many programs define commitment in increments of days, weeks or months. Perhaps even in terms of dollars and cents. We have taken the Jewishness out of much of our faith practice in the western world. A God-fearer today may be regarded as opposed to grace and a staunch supporter of legal Christianity. Yeshua was a legalist in that He kept the Torah perfectly and in Him was no imperfection found!

Thank you for joining us as we take a brief look back at our faith heritage. I hope you are enjoying these glimpses.

Kevod Yeheveh, His presence be with you this hour and always.

Mellow Rock
David Russell

Monday, March 13, 2017

In The Beginning: Passover and Purim (David Russell)

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is Monday in my corner of Blog Land. A taste of winter has returned to my corner or region of blog land, and some parts are anticipated to receive major amounts of snow over the next couple of days. Our previous month had several days of above normal temperatures and now we are being reminded that the season of Spring is yet to arrive.

Meantime, we continue looking at faith practice in the light of Jewish heritage. Today our thoughts are courtesy of an article by Messianic Rabbi, Russ Resnik, from The Messianic Times. It is titled,
Purim, Passover and the Hidden Messiah

"Who has believed our report?

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Isaiah 53:1

Citing Rabbi Resnik, "The phrase, the arm of the Lord, normally describes the mighty and undeniable acts of God. It reminds us of Passover, when God revealed himself openly to Israel and Egypt by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Isaiah says that "He is one from whom people hide their faces," (53:3) which reminds us of Purim not Passover.

Purim is the festival of exile, a time when God seems hidden. Passover is a festival of redemption, when God is undeniably present! The Good News of Mark 1:1-11 may well answer where we are today. Verse 24 even points out the demons believe Yeshua to be the hidden Messiah.

Purim reminds us: Things are not always as they appear. Outsiders and even God will ultimately put in place those who seem powerful and in control.

Note: One common practice during the festival of Purim, is public reading of the book of Esther that clearly shows how God did act on behalf of His people. Most main-line churches ignore this occasion and prefer instead, to paint the Jewish people as unfortunate, incapable, misinformed, persons who "didn't get it." Thank you for joining us in our look at our faith heritage.

Kevod Yeheveh, His Presence is full of shalom!

Mellow Rock.

Friday, March 10, 2017

In The Beginning (Breishit 1, Genesis 1)

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is Friday, and at sunset, the weekly Sabbath will begin in our corners of the world. This has occurred each week since creation for an estimated 5771 years. As mentioned in my last post, we are going to spend a few posts looking at our Jewish heritage as persons who practice faith. It is a vast subject, and one that we can only brush against here. If you are curious and pressed for time, start by perusing Bible History Daily from the Website, Biblical Archaeology Society, or grab a copy of their magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review and read some articles inside.

I was given an online membership to the Website by my family, and found a very interesting article at Bible History Daily under the Beginnings of Christianity where I would like to begin our look today.

About six years ago, officials in the country of Turkey announced that through ground-penetration radar, a well-preserved large church building had been located. This church is in Laodicea, and probably built during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, in the early fourth century, but survived an earthquake that hit the city in the early 600s. Some speculate that this building may have been where the Roman Catholic church held its Council around 363 A.D. Laodicea had at one time been a prosperous center, but in the latter portion of the first century - believers were threatened by the rule of Diomician. He decreed that people also honor the state in order to trade and sell, or the option was famine, starvation and ultimately death. It's in this dynamic we read in Revelation, Because you are neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Imagine yourself in such a predicament. You have a family or yourself to support. What do you do when your life is literally on the line?

Have you heard this explanation from the pulpit?

Another Bible History Daily article by Dr. Douglas Boin, titled, "The Archaeological Quest for the Earliest Christians", alleges that findings indicate early Christians were not too impoverished or disenfranchised to leave mementos behind. There have been artistic works found near Bethlehem for example that depict representations of personages during the time of Christ. These are not in great quantity, but do suggest all may not have been as bleak as has been portrayed down through the years.

Thank you for taking the time to look back with me at a facet of our faith heritage. Please share this with someone who may be interested, or leave comment if you so desire.

Kevod Yeheveh, His presence be with us always.

Mellow Rock
David Russell

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Time To Return to Truth

Hello Grafted In Readers,

Today is March 07, 2017 in my corner of blog land. Of late, we have been getting intermittent spring weather with temperatures between eight and fifteen degrees Celsius and even broke some old weather records toward the end of February with temperatures nearing fifteen to eighteen degrees C. For those used to readings in Fahrenheit, that means anywhere from above freezing to the high sixties.

This will be our last blog post focusing on health issues for a little while. I would like to direct our attention for a few posts back to faith heritage, which is also called Jewish roots or Hebrew roots. I will mention this at the end of the article by suggesting an article for you to read on line, from the periodical, Newsweek Magazine, published in the USA.

Today though, here are some tips about improving sleep that I found in the most recent edition of the Mayo Clinic newsletter, HouseCall.

These are not in any order of importance:
- Choose Bedding that you find comfortable
- Get comfortable. Consider room temperature, having minimal noise, dim lighting or no lighting
- When going to bed, read something for a few minutes or listen to some calming music or white noise
- Create a bedtime ritual be it a warm bath, shower, quiet time, prayer/meditation
- Do not go to bed on a full or empty stomach
- Go to bed around the same time each night and get up around the same time each day; or reverse if your schedule is reverse.
- Consider what is keeping you from getting sleep: illness, work situation, relationship issues, other.

Jewish Roots

As I mentioned, for the next few posts, we will return to learning some about the Jewish roots of our faith. I want to suggest you note and read the following article online from Newsweek Magazine that was published some months ago. Some of the info will perhaps be new and shocking. Remember, the Holy Catholic Apostolic church is run by humanity and has been since its inception. If you can accept that, then you can probably forgive the mistakes it has made and hold the current clergy accountable for covering up its bloody history. You have a right to know church history and not just the pretty parts!
See you next post. Here is the link, please continue to self educate:
The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin - Newsweek
www.newsweek.com/2015/01/02/thats-not-what-bible-says-294018.htmlResult details
Dec 23, 2014 - Instead, a Church of England committee relied primarily on Latin manuscripts ... Those who believed in the Trinity butchered Christians who didn't. ...

Mellow Rock