What are you?

It has finally happened. People in the Messianic Jewish congregation I’ve been fellowshipping with have finally started to ask me which direction I’m coming from. They want to know if I am Jewish or Gentile. I counter with “Why does it matter?” and they get sheepish. It shouldn’t matter to them, because it doesn’t matter to God.

When the angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, the message was for “all people”

“10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.” (Luke 2:10-11)  

The prophet Isaiah tells us that foreigners who follow the ways of God will be welcomed.

And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord minister to Him, love the name of Yahweh and become His servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold firmly to My covenant— I will bring them to My holy mountain and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:6-7)     

Peter, the one upon whom Jesus built his church, noted with astonishment that the Gentiles received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded, 47 “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.  (Acts 10:44-48)

His viewpoint was that if God chose these people (the Gentiles), then who where they (the Jews who believed in Jesus) to refuse them the sacrament of baptism.

We are all one in Christ – there is no distinction.

Peter also says

34 Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, 35 but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.  (Acts 10:34-35)

If God doesn’t show favoritism, neither should we.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians says –

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment. 28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.  (Gal. 3:27-29)

Likewise, Paul says in his letter to the Colossians –

11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all. (Col. 3:11)

To the Ephesians he says –

The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Eph. 3:6)

 

Jesus says we are equal, like brothers – with nobody greater than another.

The disciples often argued about who was more important among them –

46 Then an argument started among them about who would be the greatest of them. 47 But Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, took a little child and had him stand next to Him. 48 He told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me welcomes Him who sent Me. For whoever is least among you—this one is great.” (Luke 9:46-48)

And likewise, just after the first Lord’s Supper –

24 Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. 25 But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’  26 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. 27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves. (Luke 22:24-27)

 

Jesus didn’t care if someone followed him in the way he taught.  What was important was that they do the work of God.  That was how you knew they were OK.

49 John responded, “Master, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he does not follow us.” 50 “Don’t stop him,” Jesus told him, “because whoever is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50)

In a similar concept –

John the Baptist gets angry with Pharisees in Matthew 3:7-10.

7 When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the place of his baptism,[b] he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.  9 And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!  10 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

He says that it doesn’t matter if you are related to Abraham.  God can do anything, and can make children of Abraham without the need for human involvement.  What matters most is that you produce fruit of the Spirit.  Blood doesn’t matter at all, but action.

 

(All translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

What’s in a name?

Around late Advent, just before Christmas, it is common to have this reading from the Gospels:

Matthew 1:18-23

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. 20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit.  21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel which is translated “God is with us.”

Matthew 1:23 refers to Isaiah 7:14.

Isaiah 7:14

14 Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

(FYI – Immanuel is sometimes spelled “Emmanuel”.)

So is the prophecy fulfilled? A virgin did conceive and give birth to a son – but he was named Jesus, not Immanuel.  Does it matter?

Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” which means “The Lord saves” or “Yahweh saves.”

So his name doesn’t even mean the same thing – “God is with us” and “The Lord saves” are not the same.

It reminds me of the discrepancy with the death and resurrection – it wasn’t three days – it wasn’t even 48 hours – that Jesus was entombed.

Does it matter?

Is it a deal breaker?

And how come nobody else has pointed this out?

 

(All translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Translation)

After the resurrection – message

I was wondering about how we will share the earth with all the dead after the resurrection. I can’t even imagine how many people that would be – millions and millions. There will be no room for everyone – the planet is overpopulated with the living as is. We can barely support ourselves.

The answer came that we will all be in a new phase reality. There will be many translucent layers of existence, rather than one. This already currently exists, but isn’t visible or manifest to anyone except prophets and seers. But after the resurrection, we will all see like this.

This will not be overwhelming. We will all have new eyes. We will all be able to shift our perception and see more, as we choose. We will not feel like our lives are crowded with people. They will be like the host of angels – ever present, but not always manifest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD

Psalm 91:1-6
1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net,
from the destructive plague.
4 He will cover you with His feathers;
you will take refuge under His wings.
His faithfulness will be a protective shield.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
6 the plague that stalks in darkness,
or the pestilence that ravages at noon.

Luke 13:34-35
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See, your house is abandoned to you. And I tell you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One’!”

Psalm 118:8-27
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in nobles.
10 All the nations surrounded me;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
11 They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they were extinguished like a fire among thorns;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
13 You pushed me hard to make me fall,
but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.
15 There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand performs valiantly!
16 The LORD’s right hand is raised.
The LORD’s right hand performs valiantly!”
17 I will not die, but I will live
and proclaim what the LORD has done.
18 The LORD disciplined me severely
but did not give me over to death.
19 Open the gates of righteousness for me;
I will enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous will enter through it.
21 I will give thanks to You
because You have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This came from the LORD;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
24 This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 LORD, save us!
LORD, please grant us success!
26 He who comes in the name
of the LORD is blessed.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
27 The LORD is God and has given us light.

Isaiah 62:10-12
10 Go out, go out through the gates;
prepare a way for the people!
Build it up, build up the highway;
clear away the stones!
Raise a banner for the peoples.
11 Look, the LORD has proclaimed
to the ends of the earth,
“Say to Daughter Zion:
Look, your salvation is coming,
His reward is with Him,
and His gifts accompany Him.”
12 And they will be called the Holy People,
the LORD’s Redeemed;
and you will be called Cared For,
A City Not Deserted.

Matthew 21:1-10
When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.3 If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”
4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
5 Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt,
the foal of a beast of burden.”
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
10 When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”

Luke 20:9-18
9 Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a slave to the farmers so that they might give him some fruit from the vineyard. But the farmers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent yet another slave, but they beat that one too, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third, but they wounded this one too and threw him out.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my beloved son. Perhaps they will respect him.’
14 “But when the tenant farmers saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, so the inheritance will be ours!’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
“Therefore, what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those farmers and give the vineyard to others.”
But when they heard this they said, “No—never!”
17 But He looked at them and said, “Then what is the meaning of this Scripture:
The stone that the builders rejected—
this has become the cornerstone?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and if it falls on anyone, it will grind him to powder!”

(All verses are HCSB)

On marriage for priests.

There is heated debate these days on whether Catholic priests should be allowed to marry. Some priests have felt so strongly that they should be able to marry that they have left the Catholic church and become Episcopal or Lutheran. All Protestant denominations allow their ministers to marry, but these are the closest in ritual to Catholicism.

So, let us look at examples from the Bible, so that we don’t rely upon our own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5) Christians learned about God from the Jews, so it is fitting to look at the Hebrew Testament to see what Jews understood was God’s plan for their priests. Their traditions became the blueprint that the early Christian church started with.

The rules for what renders a person fit to be a priest are in Leviticus.  Among rules such as not touching a dead body except that of a close family member and not shaving the edge of his beard, we find these specific rules about who they aren’t allowed to marry –

They are not to marry a woman defiled by prostitution. They are not to marry one divorced by her husband, for the priest is holy to his God.” (Leviticus 21:7)

By spelling this out, we know that there are allowed to marry other people.

Then there are instructions about their daughters in 21:9.   We can logically infer from this that the daughter was legitimately conceived – hence the priest was married.

Verses 13-15 give more information as to who a priest is allowed to marry.   13 “He is to marry a woman who is a virgin. 14 He is not to marry a widow, a divorced woman, or one defiled by prostitution. He is to marry a virgin from his own people, 15 so that he does not corrupt his bloodline among his people, for I am Yahweh who sets him apart.”

This further proves that priests are allowed to marry.  Why say who they can and can’t marry if they aren’t allowed to?  Thus, marriage is appropriate and allowed for priests in Judaism.

These instructions are repeated and added to later in Ezekial 44:22.    “He is not to marry a widow or a divorced woman, but must marry a virgin from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest.”

God does not want us to be alone.  It isn’t part of God’s plan for us. In Genesis 2:18 we read 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

One of Jesus’s early miracles was healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter.  From this we must conclude that he was married – he wouldn’t have a mother-in-law otherwise.  Remember this is the person that Jesus built his entire Church upon (See Matthew 16:18).  He wouldn’t have chosen someone for so important a role that was doing something he thought was wrong.

“As soon as they left the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus and the disciples went into Simon Peter’s house. His mother-in-law was in bed with a high fever. They asked Jesus to help her. He went to her, and taking her by the hand, he rebuked the fever. Immediately she was healed and she began to wait on them. Later that evening, people began bringing those who were sick and possessed to him. He healed them by laying his hands on them and he drove out demons with a word. Those who were possessed had demons who were shouting “You are the Son of God!” But he told them not to speak because it wasn’t time yet for this to be known. What was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled with his actions. “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Isaiah 53:4)”  (MT 8:14-17, MK 1:29-34, LK 4:38-41   Condensed Gospel)

Paul, in giving instructions to Titus, says in Titus 1:5-9
“5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you, 6 if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate. 7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; 9 he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

These elders become bishops – leaders over others. They are allowed to marry – but only once. But they are allowed to marry.

But – all of this is irrelevant.  Jesus didn’t want priests to be different from the congregation.  He wanted us to all be equal, like brothers.  To have any group of people separate from the rest of the Body of Christ is to go against Christ’s teaching.

Luke 22:24-27   24 Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. 25 But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’26 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. 27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(All Bible translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible unless otherwise noted)

A revised Motorist’s Prayer

I came across the Motorist’s Prayer while searching for the prayers to use with a Saint Christopher chaplet. A chaplet is small devotional set of beads for a specific intention, like a rosary, but often smaller. The prayers are unique for each chaplet.
————-

The Motorist’s Prayer (original)

Grant me, O Lord, a steady hand and watchful eye
that no one shall be hurt as I pass by.
You gave life, I pray no act of mine
may take away or mar that gift of Thine.
Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear my company
from the evils of fire and all calamity.
Teach me to use my car for others need;
Nor miss through love of undue speed
the beauty of the world; that thus I may,
with joy and courtesy, go on my way.
Saint Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me and lead me safely to my destiny. Amen.

——————-

But I don’t like it because it is in sing-song rhyme. The rhyme gets in the way of being able to really understand the words. Perhaps it makes it easier for some people to memorize when it is in rhyme, but for me then that means there is a chance that the words become vain repetitions – something Jesus warns us against.

I’ve rewritten it without the rhyme, keeping as many of the original words as possible.
—————–
The Motorist’s Prayer (revised)
Heavenly Father, grant that my hand is steady and my eye watchful so that I bring no harm to those I pass by today.
Help me to remember that that You are the giver of life, so that I do not take away or harm Your gift.
Take care of my passengers so that no harm comes to them.
Teach me to use my car to help others and to not miss the glory of Your creation because I am speeding.
Help me to travel through Your creation with joy and courtesy.
Lord, with Saint Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me and lead me safely to my destiny. Amen.

———-

Please note that I also changed the ending. It is important to know Who is the one you are praying to. Saint Christopher cannot do anything – only God can. God can work through people, but we must always remember that they are not the Source of healing – only God is.

It is all good.

Our separation from God was simultaneous with our eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  At that moment, we divided our world into pieces, instead of being whole.  We no longer saw as God does, in entirety, in completion.  We began at that moment to judge – to raise things up, and to put things down.  We chose to forget that God made all things and said that they were good.

As stated by Placido, an Andean shaman in the film “Humano” (currently free on Amazon Prime) – “The only thing you need to understand is that everything is there to be understood, and not to be rejected or judged. As soon as you start judging, you enter into dualism.”

The Hebrew word “Shalom” means peace.  It is related to the word “shelemut”, which means “wholeness”.  Meanwhile, the Hebrew word for sickness (choleah) is related to the word for emptiness or hollowness.  It is also the word for secular or profane.  Thus, sickness is a body without a soul – devoid of spirit.  To be whole, we must have body and soul together, complete.

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Wisdom 11:24-25 is talking about how God created everything, so it has to be good.  The “you” in these verses refer to God.

24 For you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things that you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
25 How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?